Carlo Ancelotti is confident Chelsea will cope without Didier Drogba next month, and hopes Nicolas Anelka fires on all cylinders on his return.
Drogba has scored 19 times this season and his absence at the African Nations Cup has robbed the Blues of the Premier League’s most prolific striker.
Salomon Kalou, John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien will also be competing at the tournament, but it is the loss of Drogba that will have the greatest impact.
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Ancelotti, however, is unperturbed by the Ivory Coast marksman’s departure and looks to this season’s Champions League campaign for reassurance.
"Didier has scored 19 goals but without him this year we’ve done very well," said the Chelsea manager.
"We won three games in the Champions League when he wasn’t playing and we can do the same in the Premiership."
Drogba fired the equaliser in Monday’s 2-1 victory over Fulham, a result that restored Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premiership to five points. It concluded a challenging month consisting of two defeats, four draws and just two victories in all competitions on a triumphant note.
Chelsea’s failings led to doubts over their ability to last the course in the title race, but Ancelotti is looking to January with renewed confidence.
The loss of the African contingent is tempered by a Premier League fixture list consisting of clashes with Hull, Sunderland, Birmingham and Burnley.
Anelka is also expected back for Sunday’s FA Cup clash with Watford following his battle with a calf injury. Ancelotti added: "December has been a difficult time because we lost some physical condition because we played many games. We also sustained some injuries.
"In January, we will play just one match per week and this is good for us to improve ourselves and get fit.
"It will help the recovery of important players like Anelka."