Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti is not getting carried away by talk of a late Premier League title challenge despite a 3-1 win over Birmingham.
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Chelsea took a small step towards the most improbable of late surges with a 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge to leapfrog Arsenal into second place and close to within six points of United.
The leaders are still firm favourites to finish top, but have to play both of their closest challengers in the next three games.
Ancelotti said: "To win the title we’ll need less points than last season.
"We won it with 86 last season. Now, with 80 points, United can win the title. They need 10 points."
He added: "In football, I learned that everything can happen in the game right up to the final whistle.
"You can win the title in the last minute and you can lose the title in the last minute.
"If we thought that one month ago we’d have a little chance to come back to fight for the title, I think that everyone could have said we were crazy.
"Now we are happy tonight because we’ve reached second place. We await to see what happens in the next five games."
However, Ancelotti refused to look too far ahead, saying: "Our aim is to try and win every game. After that, we can see our results and our position in the table.
"Six points at this stage with five games to go will not be easy, but we don’t have to think we can or can’t do this."
Winning the title would surely make owner Roman Abramovich think twice about sacking the Italian, who was widely considered to be a dead man walking at Stamford Bridge after Chelsea crashed out of the Champions League.
Asked if he felt his job would be secure if he masterminded such a comeback, Ancelotti said: "Questions with ‘if’ are not good.
"At the end of the season, we will have a big press conference, a strong and tough press conference."
Ancelotti left Fernando Torres out of the side and was rewarded as Florent Malouda scored twice and Salomon Kalou once, while Didier Drogba also ran Birmingham ragged.
Hailing his front three, Ancelotti said: "Drogba, Kalou, individually, there were a lot of good performances. A lot of midfielders played really well."
Admitting Drogba was back to his best after malaria laid him low towards the end of last year, Ancelotti added: "He has a strong personality. He knew that, with malaria, he didn’t play his best.
"I think that now he’s fit and he’s showing fantastic quality. In one season, problems like Didier had can happen. We couldn’t do anything about this.
"Now we have to be happy to see him playing fantastic football, but forget the past."
Birmingham had taken seven points from their last three games to move clear of the relegation zone, but never really looked in the contest after falling behind inside three minutes.
Alex McLeish said: "Shocking start. We did the same thing here last season and gave ourselves a mountain to climb. But we hung in there and never gave up."
The visitors earned a late consolation when David Luiz foolishly tripped Matt Derbyshire and Sebastian Larsson converted the resulting penalty after snatching the ball from team-mate Craig Gardner.
McLeish said: "It’s not normally something I’d encourage.
"When a player has been successful in scoring the penalties, as Craig has done, he should keep it.
"I’m sure they’ll have a wee chat about it over the next few days."
McLeish refused to rule Chelsea out of the title race, but was more concerned with his own side’s five-point cushion over the drop zone.
He said: "I would say we need another win. We’ll try and get as many points in the last five games as we can."