English Premiership

We're 'fighting for our lives'

2010-04-14 07:43
Carlo Ancelotti (File)

London - Carlo Ancelotti insists there is no chance Chelsea will lose their nerve as they approach the final furlong of the race for the Premier League title.

Ancelotti's side are within touching distance of winning the league for the first time since 2006 after Tuesday's 1-0 win over Bolton left the Blues four points clear of second placed Manchester United with four games to go.

The leaders looked anxious at times as they laboured to kill off stubborn Bolton and Owen Coyle's struggling team could even have snatched a shock draw if referee Lee Probert had awarded either of two strong penalty claims.

With a trip to London rivals Tottenham next on the agenda and another tricky away game at Liverpool still to come, it seems likely Chelsea will have plenty more opportunities to show their resolve before the champagne corks start popping around west London.

But Ancelotti is adamant his players' ability to grind out wins from tense encounters like the Bolton game shows they are made of the right stuff to end United's three-year reign as champions.

"We have more possibility than Manchester United and Arsenal (to win the title) but we are not sure," Ancelotti said.

"We have to play four tough games. On Saturday we have a derby against Tottenham. We are ready to play and we are excited. We know we have to fight and we are ready to fight.

"We don't want to look at the other teams. The Premier League is in our hands. We have to stay focused and calm and prepare for our games.

"We have to play game by game and we are not interested in the results of the other teams.

"There was pressure on us because we had to improve our position. The players have a very good motivation to finish the season well."

Key to Chelsea's hopes of winning the title for the first time since the Jose Mourinho era is the form of strikers Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba.

Suggestions from Bolton striker Kevin Davies that his former Wanderers team-mate Anelka doesn't like playing with Drogba were made to look wide of the mark as the pair combined for Chelsea's winner on Tuesday.

Yet Anelka's close-range header from Drogba's sublime 43rd minute cross was the French striker's first goal in 14 matches stretching back to January.

Once again Anelka, who started as part of a three-man attack, rarely dovetailed well with Drogba and was replaced midway through the second half.

Publicly at least Ancelotti had no complaints about the relationship between his star strikers, but it would be little surprise if one of them starts on the bench at Tottenham this weekend to make way for Florent Malouda and Joe Cole.

"They worked very well," Ancelotti said. "They changed positions and the goal was fantastic because it was a very good movement by Didier and Nicolas was in the box to score."

Bolton boss Coyle rightly felt aggrieved that his team had not been awarded penalties for Drogba's handball as he tried to clear from Davies in the first half, and then when Terry blocked Lee Chung-Yong's cross with his arm after the interval.

"We didn't need any luck. We only needed the officials to get the big decisions right," Coyle said. "There were two stonewall penalties out there for handballs. The first one when Drogba handballs in the area. He could play world-class volleyball for anybody on that evidence.

"Then there's the second one when John Terry handles it. The assistant referee says it hit his shoulder, but it's a clear penalty. He must have a shoulder that stretches down to his ankles in that case.

"It's hard to take. If it was a game where we'd been rolled over 4-0 or 5-0, fair enough. But we could have taken points had those decisions gone for us. We're fighting for our lives, so that's doubly disappointing."

Read more on:    premier league  |  carlo ancelotti
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