LONDON • Tony Pulis has spiced up the Premier League clash between his West Bromwich Albion side and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge today by dismissing talk that Guus Hiddink has masterminded a turnaround for the Blues.
The champions are unbeaten in five games since Hiddink returned for a second spell as interim manager following Jose Mourinho's sacking last month.
But when asked about Chelsea's revival under the Dutchman, Pulis declined to give Hiddink too much credit.
"What's been said is a load of c**p, in lots of respects," said the West Brom manager.
"The fact Mourinho won the league by a country mile - to say someone's come in and changed it and they're playing better and doing everything else better...
WAY OUT OF LINE
To put Jose down is completely and utterly out of order. It's disrespectful to Mourinho and also the players that won the league last year, because they played some great football.
TONY PULIS, West Brom manager, on the manner in which Jose Mourinho was sacked from Chelsea.
"There might have been other reasons things didn't go so well this year. But to put Jose down is completely and utterly out of order. It's disrespectful to Mourinho and also the players that won the league last year, because they played some great football."
Hiddink has overseen three wins and two draws, but Chelsea remain 14th in the table, three points and two places below today's opponents.
The Dutchman admits that the challenge of closing the gap on the top four may prove beyond his side, even if they can maintain the progress they have shown since the change in the dug-out.
However, three successive clean sheets are a sign the west London club is becoming more resilient.
One of those three victories he oversaw came against Scunthorpe in the FA Cup, when striker Diego Costa limped off with a knee injury.
Hiddink told a press conference yesterday that the Spain international has since been passed fit while France striker Loic Remy is also available.
"Costa is OK. He got a contusion on his knee, it was not inside the joint," he said.
"The day after the game he was eager to go on to the pitch already so I was a little bit amazed."
But forward Eden Hazard is still unavailable with the groin problem he sustained in a league win over Crystal Palace on Jan 2.
"Hazard was on the pitch today with the physios and the trainers, he was doing better but is still not available," added the Dutchman.
"(He is) not with the group because we want to have him fit.
"It's better a little bit late than one hour too early."
CHELSEA V WEST BROM
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