Ancelotti: We must seize the moment
Carlo Ancelotti has urged his Chelsea players to seize "the moment" by beating Manchester United next Sunday to stay on course for the greatest comeback in Premier League title history.
You would have been laughed out of town for suggesting it two months ago but victory at Old Trafford would send the champions back to the top of the table with just two games remaining of one of the most topsy-turvy top-flight seasons in living memory.
The Blues were in danger of failing to finish in the top four at the end of February and were 15 points behind and 1-0 down to United at Stamford Bridge on 1 March. But their fightback to win that game sparked a run that has seen them take 25 of the last 27 points on offer, slowly reeling in Sir Alex Ferguson's men.
United nevertheless remained overwhelming favourites to depose Chelsea as champions until this weekend, when the most dramatic of matches for both sides blew the title race wide open.
Asked what the key was to winning next Sunday, Ancelotti said: "The moment. You need to use character and personality to play this match. Both teams have that, but it is the momentum."
The force certainly seems to be with Ancelotti's men, who beat Tottenham 2-1 yesterday thanks to two goals that should have never stood before watching United lose 1-0 at Arsenal after they were denied what appeared a clear penalty.
Sunday's game is nevertheless too close to call, with Chelsea having won at Old Trafford last season in what proved a title decider as well as coming out on top at Stamford Bridge in March. They have since lost home and away to United in the UEFA Champions League, although they are arguably in better form now than they were at the start of last month.
Ancelotti talks momentum
Ancelotti, who revealed his players "spirit" had also improved since their European exit, said: "It is the best moment to play there because now our condition is good and the momentum is also. But obviously it will not be easy to play there."
He added: "I don't think we are better (than United). I think we have the same power, the same strength, the same ability."
Chelsea's win yesterday all but destroyed Tottenham's hopes of finishing fourth and they ended the weekend in sixth, out of the European places altogether. Manager Harry Redknapp is already turning his attention to next season and had a clear message for chairman Daniel Levy.
He said: "I hate when people say, 'Oh well, if they don't make the Champions League, they're going to sell (Gareth) Bale or they're going to sell (Luka) Modric - that's not the way forward.
"The way forward now is to say, 'Okay, let's go and find one or two top-drawer players and go and move on again and let's get back in the Champions League. I haven't spoken to Daniel about it but I'm sure he's got to be positive. Where do you go if you don't do that?
"Chelsea looked like they might have dropped out of the top four round about transfer-window time, so they went and spent £75m on two players because they wanted to stay in there. I'm not saying we should spend £75m but we need to keep positive and moving forward."
Redknapp has a similar message for Bale and Modric themselves should they begin to worry about the club having gone backwards in the league this season. He said: "We weren't in the Champions League when they came - I don't see that being a problem.
"They know we're a good side but what you've got to do now is add one or two players and show them we do mean business. You've got a squad here now which I think can compete for a Champions League place every year. We just need to improve."