Blues boss demands ruthlessness

Chelsea have taken advantage of a number of slip-ups by their

rivals to establish a five-point gap at the top of the table with

almost a quarter of the season gone. Yet the Blues boss, who

clinched the title last season in his first year in charge, has

voiced his concerns recently that his team are not performing to

their potential. The Londoners had to rely on a late goal from

Salomon Kalou to seal a 2-0 victory over Wolves last week and have

been guilty of easing off on their opponents at times this season –

most notably against Stoke and Blackpool. Ancelotti thinks his team

will have to be more ruthless in closing out matches if they are to

claim victory in the key battles against Liverpool, Tottenham,

Manchester United and Arsenal that lie ahead. “We have started the

season well but I think we can play better because we played very

well in some parts of some games but not continuously,” the Italian

said. “We have to play 90 minutes how we want to play. We have to

improve our play and our intensity. We can’t just play for 45

minutes like we did against Wolves. We want to play well for the

whole of the match and we haven’t been able to do that so far this

season.” Ancelotti takes his team to Blackburn on Saturday knowing

that his team have under-performed in their last two league matches

away from home. Defeat at title rivals Manchester City was followed

by a goalless draw at Aston Villa, where they could have lost all

three points had Nigel Reo-Coker not squandered a golden chance in

the dying minutes. Although Ancelotti’s team swept aside Wigan and

West Ham in their other two away league games, the former AC Milan

boss admits his side must do better on the road if they are to hold

on to their title. “In the last two games away we didn’t score

against Man City and against Aston Villa,” said the 51-year-old.

“We had a good away game in the Champions League at Spartak Moscow

but it is strange for us not to score away in two consecutive games

in the Premier League. “We had a fantastic performance when we won

at Wigan 6-0 but we have to be better away.” Alex will return to

the heart of the Chelsea defence tomorrow after recovering from a

thigh injury but Ramires (ankle), Frank Lampard (hernia) and Yossi

Benayoun (Achilles) remain sidelined. Chelsea will be clear

favourites to take all three points and maintain their grip on the

title against a Blackburn side whose three-match winless run has

seen them plummet to 17th in the table. However, Ancelotti expects

the game to be one of the toughest of the season and has warned his

side that defeat could seriously affect their chances of winning

back-to-back titles for the second time in the club’s 105-year

history. “It’s very important to maintain that gap on the other

teams,” said Ancelotti, whose side drew 1-1 at Ewood Park last

year. “Man City, Man Utd and Arsenal are interested in our results

and they would like us to lose some points. For this reason it will

be an important game tomorrow. “If we are able to win this game I

think that we can improve our confidence and we can give

disappointment to the other teams.” Sam Allardyce has come under

fire in recent weeks for the physical style that he employs but

Ancelotti fully respects Saturday’s opposing manager. “Sam

Allardyce is doing a good job at Blackburn,” Ancelotti continued.

“He is putting on the pitch a very strong team that are using a

particular physical style of play and for this reason to play

against them is not easy. Tactically they are one of the best teams

in England, particularly defensively.”