City are title rivals – Ancelotti

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti insists Manchester City are still

in the Premier League title race under fellow Italian Roberto

Mancini.

Ancelotti’s side head into 2010 top of the table but suffered

an inconsistent December, while City recorded back-to-back wins

after appointing Mancini to take over from Mark Hughes.

Sir Alex Ferguson has predicted a two-horse race for the

championship between his Manchester United side and Chelsea, but

Ancelotti said: “A lot of teams will be involved in the fight for

the title.

“I think the last results, the result of Manchester City

above all, show they have an opportunity to return to the top four.

“I don’t want to forget Arsenal, I don’t want to forget

Manchester City or any other teams. I don’t know if Arsenal, Aston

Villa, Tottenham or Liverpool can fight for the title, but I know

that to play against them is not easy.

“It’s a very competitive championship, this. Staying at the

top of the list, for us, for six months is a very good situation.

We did a very good job in these six months to maintain this first

place in the league.”

Ancelotti, however, believes Mancini will find it difficult

to attract top players to Eastlands when the January transfer

window opens.

“I think it’s very difficult to buy top players at this

moment,” he said. “The teams that have top players keep them in

January. That’s normal.”

Ancelotti’s attention turns to the FA Cup this weekend, with

his side hosing Watford on Sunday at Stamford Bridge.

The Chelsea boss has France striker Nicolas Anelka returning

from a calf problem but Didier Drogba, John Mikel Obi and Salomon

Kalou have gone to the African Nations Cup, and Michael Essien will

join them when he recovers from injury.

Ancelotti is still expected to pick a strong team against

Championship opponents.

“I want to put out my best team,” he said.