Carlo Ancelotti believes Chelsea are capable of running away with the Premier League title race if they maintain focus in the aftermath of their impressive 3-0 victory at Arsenal.
Ancelotti's side opened up a five point lead at the top of the table thanks to Didier Drogba's double strike and a Thomas Vermaelen own goal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. The Blues are firmly in control of the fight for the English title after five consecutive league victories and Ancelotti admits it is possible they could keep up their impressive pace for the rest of the season.
Wins over reigning champions United, Liverpool and now Arsenal suggest the Italian could be right. But Ancelotti was wise enough to couch his claim in a warning that his players cannot afford to rest on their laurels after defeats at Wigan and Aston Villa earlier this season showed what can happen if they take their eye off the ball.
"We know very well our possibilities. We can win every game but if we don't have concentration we can lose every game. We have to pay attention and maintain good behaviour in our work," Ancelotti said.
"We started the season believing we can win the title. Our objective is to stay in all the competitions until the end of the season. Then after that, if we can win things, we will try to do it. When I signed a contract with Chelsea, I believed we could win something."
After ruthlessly demolishing the Gunners, Chelsea are now 11 points clear of their London rivals, whose title hopes look all but over for another year. Ancelotti refused to write off Arsene Wenger's team, preferring instead to concentrate on his own team's ambitions. "It is not so important for me if Arsenal can return to the top," he said. "It is more important that Chelsea continue to play like this, with determination and concentration."
The Blues, now unbeaten in nine matches in all competitions, are increasingly carrying the look of champions elect. Yet Wenger insists they can still be caught, even though he acknowledged it may not be his own team who do the catching. Once again the Gunners failed to produce on the big occasion as they suffered their first home loss since Chelsea won in north London in May.
Although Arsenal, who have lost two successive league games, were able to sweep aside some undemanding opposition during their recent 14-match unbeaten run, they have lost all their serious tests against Chelsea, United and Manchester City. Wenger said: "At the moment they are in a very strong position, but this team for me they can drop points. I am convinced of that.
"We are 11 points behind Chelsea so our title hopes have suffered a big blow, before we speak about Chelsea we need to win games. We can see that the defeat at Sunderland had done more damage confidence-wise than it should have done. It is two games for the first time when we didn't score. We are used to scoring goal after goal but at the moment we don't score."
Rather than admit his own team's failings, Wenger was keen to concentrate on referee Andre Marriner's decision to rule out Andrey Arshavin's strike for dangerous play after Eduardo's high foot flicked the ball away from Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. Wenger was adamant that was the turning point as his side had made a bright start to the second half following the shock of conceding two goals in four minutes late in the first period.
Drogba had finished off Ashley Cole's cross from close-range in the 41st minute before Vermaelen turned another delivery from the England defender into his own net. After Arshavin's disallowed goal, Arsenal gradually lost belief and ran out of ideas long before Drogba curled a superb free-kick past Manuel Almunia in the 86th minute.