Scolari puts Chelsea first

Luiz Felipe Scolari has quickly grown to love life in England, but the Chelsea manager has put sight-seeing to the back of his mind as he tries to keep his side top of the Premier League. The Brazilian and his family have settled well in their new home near the Blues' training ground in leafy Cobham, south of London, but he has made only a handful of trips into the capital because he is so focused on winning silverware this season.

Like Arsene Wenger, who once claimed he only knew the way to Arsenal's stadium, training ground and Heathrow aiport, Scolari is too consumed by succuss to worry about trips to Big Ben and the Tower of London. That did not change this week, ahead of Newcastle United's visit to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, even though he had only a handful of players to work with due to the international friendlies.

"My life in England is a normal life as a coach. I have more time for the club, for training, and I spend some time with the family when I have time for this," he said. "My family like to stay in England, my son is studying at a beautiful, big school and he visited some more places than me and has more friends.

I have visited three or four times when I was free with my family, but when I go to London it is to play at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari on visiting London.

"It is difficult for me to go long distances when we have training nearly every day and I have a son in school. London? No, ."

Scolari has more pressing concerns as he waits to see whether Frank Lampard and goalkeeper Petr Cech can overcome a rib and thigh problems respectively. Seven other first-team players are expected to be out of action, too, with Alex, Joe Cole, Belletti, Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Essien, Ashley Cole and Franco Di Santo all still struggling.

With a third of the season now played, the signs are looking good for Chelsea. They are level on points with Liverpool, eight clear of Manchester Unitd, who have a game in hand, and nine ahead of Arsenal. Scolari is enjoying every minute of his challenging first season in England.

"In our last match we played with seven players missing. But at Chelsea we know that we can play with A, B or C and we will still have that spirit in the side," he said. "We are in a good position for this stage of the season.

"The Premier League, it is more than I expected. It is fantastic, beautiful. I think this season I like more than the others when I was a club coach because it is different. Passion, emotion, beautiful games, difficult games, it is very good for a coach."

He not only plays inside the area but also outside, he is fast, and now that he has confidence he will score more goals for us
Luiz Felipe Scolari on his in-form Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka.

Didier Drogba is banned for the Newcastle match, and Nicolas Anelka retains his place up front. "Nicolas has played almost every game, he has more confidence. ," Scolari said.

Newcastle do not have a great record at Stamford Bridge, and defender Steven Taylor will be missing after failing to overcome a groin injury. Joey Barton is also out for around eight weeks due to a knee ligament problem, while Australian forward Mark Viduka is not yet fully recovered from an Achilles lay-off.

The Magpies have lost on their last eight visits to Chelsea, scoring only three and conceding 20 goals along the way.