Chelsea stop the rot

2010-12-30 07:02

London - Carlo Ancelotti believes Chelsea's victory over Bolton Wanderers has rekindled his side's Premier League title challenge.

A dismal run that had brought the English champions just six points in eight games finally came to an end when the Blues recorded their first league win since November 10 thanks to Florent Malouda's second-half goal.

Wednesday's victory came on the same day as Arsenal, who beat Chelsea 3-1 on Monday, were held to a 2-2 draw at Wigan Athletic and 24 hours after league leaders Manchester United had drawn 1-1 at Birmingham City.

Malouda's goal ensured Chelsea leapfrogged Tottenham Hotspur into the top four and they now sit four points behind United, having played a game more.

The campaign has so far been marked by a number of surprise results, with all the leading teams losing key matches, and Ancelotti believes that opens the door for his side to revive their bid to retain the Premier League title.

"This is a dangerous championship because every team can give other teams difficulties," the Italian said after Chelsea won in the league for the first time in seven games. "You saw with Arsenal tonight (Wednesday) against Wigan.

"It's a Premier League with a lot of balance so nothing is decided now. It is important for us to stay focused on the game because the league is open for us again."

"The most important thing was to change the atmosphere to change the trend and come back to win," added Ancelotti ahead of struggling Aston Villa's visit to west London side Chelsea's Stamford Bridge ground on Sunday.

Ancelotti is confident the victory over Bolton has eased the growing pressure on his side but warned they must build on the result if they are to have any chance of closing the gap on United.

"This was an important step, this victory and this performance. It was difficult against Bolton who have a lot of power up front and are dangerous.

"Now we have to win the next games. This is an important step. I am not sure the team will be OK. We have to put that performance again."

Ancelotti, who had previously described 2010 as a "fantastic" year after leading Chelsea to their first ever league and FA Cup double added: "I tried to give confidence in the players.

"They are fantastic players. This was the last game of this year and we have to have a fantastic memory of this year because we did a fantastic job. It was good to finish this year with a victory. I hope 2011 can be like 2010."

Bolton manager Owen Coyle was left frustrated by this defeat, particularly as he was convinced Malouda's goal should have been ruled out for offside.

"It was a huge decision," he said. "I believe it was offside.

"We could have possibly had a penalty from John Terry's handball but we had two stonewall penalties denied us here last year when Didier Drogba played basketball so we weren't going to get that."

Yet as frustrated as the manager was, he pointed to the game as proof of the progress Bolton, now sixth in the table, have made since he took charge a year ago with the club languishing in 19th place.

"I can look at the progress we have made. If I had said at this stage of the league we would come to Chelsea and have the chance of leapfrogging them, I think I would have been taken away in a straitjacket.

"But we can't affect what’s behind us, only what's in front of us."