LONDON (Reuters) – Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech has made a surprise return to Chelsea’s training ground ahead of Sunday’s big London derby after Adidas sent a consignment of gloves to his former club by mistake.
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink, whose misfiring champions travel to Cech’s Premier League leaders on Sunday, made light of the situation at a news conference on Friday.
“I was here when Petr showed up. It was nice to see him,” the Dutchman told reporters at the Cobham facility to the south-west of London.
“We had a chat here. Almost everyone was gone already, it was late afternoon….we tried to hide them, which he did not accept. Also we tried to make them a little bit slippery but he discovered that also.
“They were wrongly sent here and we gave them back. It was nice. That’s the story.”.
Cech spent 11 years at Chelsea, winning four Premier League titles and the Champions League, before joining Arsenal this season in a move that has given the north Londoners an extra dimension in defence.
The new gloves were made to mark the Premier League record for most clean sheets, which Cech set against Bournemouth last month when he passed David James’s 169, and the goalkeeper is due to wear them at the weekend.
Chelsea are 14th in the league, 19 points behind Arsenal and just four above the relegation zone, but they beat Arsenal 2-0 at Stamford Bridge under now-departed Jose Mourinho earlier in the season.
They have not lost to Arsenal in the league since 2011 and remain unbeaten since Hiddink took over in December.
During a previous stint under the Dutchman, Chelsea inflicted Arsenal’s heaviest Premier League defeat at the Emirates with a 4-1 win in 2009.
“Everyone knows where we were in December,” said Hiddink.
“So far we are unbeaten but we cannot be fully satisfied with results. My main task is to get the team to where we desperately want to be. I’m focused on that job.”
The Dutchman said striker Diego Costa was available for selection, although he had not been able to train much during the week after suffering a bruised shin in the 3-3 draw against Everton last Saturday.
Playmaker Eden Hazard is also available after three matches out with a groin injury.
“Today and yesterday he was in full commitment with first team training so he is available,” Hiddink said of the Belgian.
“I am not sure whether he can play a full 90 minutes yet so we have to consider in the upcoming hours whether he will start or come on. We will decide on game day.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)