Guus Hiddink is back at Chelsea as interim manager for the second time in six years.
Here, Press Association Sport compares the side Hiddink fielded in his first Chelsea match in 2009 with the strongest line-up he could select for Boxing Day’s clash with Watford.
HIDDINK’S FIRST CHELSEA XI in 1-0 win at Aston Villa on February 21, 2009: Petr Cech, Jose Bosingwa, Paulo Ferreira, Alex, John Terry, Michael Ballack, John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard, Salomon Kalou, Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba.
HIDDINK’S POSSIBLE LINE-UP TO FACE WATFORD ON BOXING DAY: Thibaut Courtois, John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas, Willian, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Diego Costa.
A Petr Cech of his mid-twenties in 2009 still just shades it over the modern-day Thibaut Courtois. At 23, Courtois perhaps has two years before he can reasonably challenge for the title of world’s best keeper.
The John Terry of six years ago clearly trumps the current version, despite the 35-year-old’s impressive staying power. Kurt Zouma is probably not yet on the level of Brazilian Alex either.
However, full-backs Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta should fare better than their 2009 counterparts Jose Bosingwa and Paulo Ferreira, though Chelsea also had Ashley Cole back then.
VERDICT: Chelsea 2009
Hiddink employed a 4-3-3 formation on his first Chelsea debut but would be hard-pressed to follow suit this time out.
The pedigree of 2009 pairing Michael Ballack and Frank Lampard perhaps beats anything Chelsea can boast in their current predicament, but an on-form Nemanja Matic is surely an upgrade on even the 2009 version of John Obi Mikel.
This weekend, Hiddink will likely deploy Cesc Fabregas alongside Matic to first break up and then dictate play from the depths of his midfield.
Eden Hazard could return after a hip problem but remains vastly out of form in comparison with his stellar efforts last season.
Willian has proved one of Chelsea’s few shining lights this term, and his presence in a potential three-man group alongside Oscar off a lone striker probably tips the balance in favour of the current midfield crop.
VERDICT: Chelsea 2015.
In 2009 Hiddink was able to field Salomon Kalou, Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba in the same strike force.
This weekend Diego Costa could lead Chelsea’s line on his own, but the combative Spain striker has completely lost the goal-scoring touch that propelled the Blues to the Premier League title last season.
VERDICT: Chelsea 2009.
OVERALL VERDICT: Hiddink ought to have a wider array of resources at his disposal this time around. But Chelsea remain significantly underpowered on the striker front, while defensively there are arguably greater concerns than there have been for many years.