Ancelotti: Blues are deserved leaders

BY foxsports • September 17, 2010

Carlo Ancelotti says Chelsea are top of the Premier League on merit even if they have yet to face any of their title rivals so far this season.

The Blues face newly-promoted Blackpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday with fans expecting another goal feast.

Chelsea's first real test will come away at Manchester City at the end of this month but Ancelotti maintains his team are ready for anyone.

"It's an important moment now," said Ancelotti. "We have a lot of games and we don't have time to train properly, but we are ready to play against a strong team.

"We have more knowledge and for that reason, we are doing well. There's no fear, now, which is good. The players are all involved in the team and there's a good atmosphere. If we can maintain this atmosphere, I think we can have success this year.

"To think about the game against City is too far away. Blackpool are a good team and have won two away games, at Newcastle and Wigan, and are showing good skills in the Premier League.

"We have to pay attention. They are no easy games. Our moment is nice. It's good now, but we want it to continue.

"We have fantastic ability up front. We have to put a kind of football on the pitch to showcase this quality. Balance is important in football.

"If you have players with skill and ability, you can show this balance. You have to find that balance and be able to attack and defend."

Chelsea will be without England midfielder Frank Lampard on Sunday as he is yet to fully recover from his hernia surgery.

Ancelotti also wants to rest some of his first-team players with midfielder Ramires, right-back Paulo Ferreira and striker Salomon Kalou likely to be handed a first-team start.

"Lampard will be out," he added. "I don't think he'll be able to play on Sunday, but he will be ready to play in the Carling Cup next week.

"He's training but we don't want to take a risk. He has to put more power in his adductor, so he'll have to train again."

Two-goal Nicolas Anelka is likely to spearhead the attack alongside the returning Didier Drogba with Daniel Sturridge standing down.

Anelka scored twice in the midweek win over MSK Zilina in the Champions League although his 'handcuff' goal celebration got more column inches than is well-taken double.

Anelka was banned for 18 games by the French Federation for his part in the country's World Cup mutiny and the player then announced his retirement from international football.

"I spoke with Nicolas for him to explain to me the celebration," said Ancelotti.

"He said it was against the France Federation. I agree with him. I think he's had a bad deal. I don't know if he's upset, but he's putting in fantastic performances. Maybe, for this reason, he has more motivation to play well.

"Obviously, if he stays here to train he can maintain a good physical condition, but for a player it's better to play for a national team."

But Sturridge will think himself unlucky not to continue in attack, especially after scoring against Zilina in the 4-1 win in midweek.

However, Ancelotti has already told the 21-year-old that, despite his efforts on Wednesday, he needs to improve still further.

"He played an important game on Wednesday and scored," conceded Ancelotti. "It's not important for me if he's playing in the Champions League or the Premier.

"He's a Chelsea player with good quality. He could do better. I expected more of him on Wednesday and he knows this.

"He has fantastic ability, and I'd like to see these skills and ability more in a game. He scored with fantastic movement, but we need to see more of that."

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