Ancelotti: Drogba almost back to his best
Carlo Ancelotti has thrown his support behind striker Didier Drogba, claiming the Chelsea star is close to rediscovering his goal-scoring touch. It had been reported that Drogba's position in the Blues' starting line-up could be under threat, but the Blues' manager insists the striker is now nearing his best form following a bout of malaria during the opening weeks of the season
"Didier is very close to his best. He played a good game for the team," Ancelotti said after his side's 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge yesterday. "He didn't score but he played a good second half. He came back to help the midfielders. It was an unselfish match for him.
"Didier is not the quickest player but he is a good player because he has power, he has strength, he has ability, he has skill. Last year he scored 40 goals and maybe he didn't have many opportunities in this moment but this is the life of the striker."
Chelsea's comfortable home victory over Blackburn marked only their second victory in 10 league games. However, Ancelotti believes his side are ready to return to the form that made them Premier League champions last season, although he acknowledges the true test of their recent progress will come when they travel to face Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium in their next outing on 24 January.
"I think our bad moment is behind. But now we have to test our moment when we play away against Bolton," said the Chelsea coach. "If I have to judge this performance I would say we did okay. We started well and we could have scored in the first half. Our play was good, more intensity, more quality. So we have to be happy for this. But we have to check the next game at Bolton because we play away.
"I think the performance against Ipswich was important," he added, referring to last week's 7-0 FA Cup victory over the Championship side. "We have more confidence now but I am sure we will better in the Premier League. It's not easy to close the gap (on the leaders) but we have to think we can do this. I don't know if it's possible. Because we won last year we want to do everything, to be in competition until the end."
Second half goals from Branislav Ivanovic and Nicolas Anelka secured victory fro Chelsea after Ancelotti had opted to keep faith with his senior players despite speculation he would make changes.
Blackburn manager Steve Kean introduced Roque Santa Cruz as a half-time substitute following the striker's return to the club on loan from Manchester City. Santa Cruz's presence wasn't enough to give Rovers a sharper cutting edge but Kean, who believes he has the full backing of his players following the controversial sacking of Sam Allardyce, hopes to bring in more reinforcements soon.
"I hope the players have accepted me," Kean said. "I don't feel as though I have had any problems with the lads, the atmosphere at the training ground has been good. We've added Roque. Hopefully we'll add another one or two in the future."