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Guus Hiddink still not ruling out the Premier League title for Chelsea


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Guus Hiddink believes that Chelsea remain contenders to win the Premier League and will not weaken his team to face Everton ahead of huge matches in both the Champions League and the FA Cup final. "As long as we have the chance, mathematically or even a bit more, to chase them down is perfect," he said. "We still take these games seriously, even though we have the Champions League and the FA Cup coming up. The league is very serious for us. As long as it's possible for us, then we go on.

"The pressure is more on Liverpool than us in terms of Manchester United and the title. I believe we have the attitude in the club, even in training sessions, that we want to win."

Hiddink confirmed that he is considering the option of Michael Mancienne at left-back to cover for Ashley Cole in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona next week. Deco will be unavailable tomorrow, while Jose Bosingwa will return to first-team training after the match against Everton.

Hiddink also delivered his now weekly pledge not to remain at Chelsea beyond the end of the season and particularly cited his commitment to the Russian players.

"It would not be fair with the players who I challenged to go into a new era of football and renew everything if I said: 'Sorry, I'm leaving.'," he said.

"It's important this relationship I have with the players. Even on a practical level, it's impossible to do. In August we have this friendly game which is 48 hours before a (Chelsea) game.

"Then you have to look at all the Russian players ahead of the qualifiers in September, and there are more qualifiers in October.

"Hopefully not in November, but there is a possibility to play in a play-off then. So I'll be very occupied with all that. I know my players, even if we're always open to new players coming in – I know the body of the squad – so scouting isn't the main issue, but I've challenged them and it wouldn't be fair for me to leave."

Hiddink also joined in the criticism of the Wembley pitch following the 2-1 semi-final win against Arsenal. "It is not in optima forma," he said. "It's true, it's not 100 per cent for a beautiful occasion like that. But I want to think about the game itself, not the pitch."

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