Essien's return delights Ancelotti

BY foxsports • September 12, 2010

Carlo Ancelotti hailed fit-again Michael Essien as "better than a new signing" after the Ghanaian inspired Chelsea to a 3-1 win at West Ham.

Essien's headed brace of goals in Saturday's Premier League clash at Upton Park were his first since for the club since he tore the medial ligament in his left knee while training with Ghana before the African Nations Cup in January.

The midfielder headed the Blues in front in the second minute and then made it 3-0 with another seven minutes from time.

Sandwiched in between was a bizarre goal for Salomon Kalou after West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green and centre-half Matthew Upson failed to clear Didier Drogba's 30-yard free-kick.

West Ham midfielder Scott Parker scored a late consolation goal, the first Chelsea have conceded all season, but, as far as Ancelotti was concerned, it could not take the shine off Essien's performance.

"I think he's better than a new signing," said Ancelotti. "We missed him last season because he's one of the top midfielders in the world. He came back and we're happy he can maintain this level of play.

"He's fit now. We have to pay attention because he's playing well, all the games at the start of the season. He scored today, and that's fantastic. He's a fantastic jumper and I hope he maintains this position for as long as possible."

Captain John Terry, who only recently recovered from a hamstring injury, was forced off in the second half with a rib injury but Ancelotti is confident he will be fit for the Champions League clash against MSK Zilina next week.

"John took a knock on his ribs. We'll have a look tomorrow and I hope he will be fit for Wednesday. Tomorrow it will be more clear.

"I don't think it's broken. He took a knock in the first half and played again for 60 minutes. But before the end of the game, he came off.

"Our start means nothing. We have started better than Manchester United, but it will be a long race. I said last year that the race is only decided at the end of the season. I will say the same this year.

"There are moments during the season where you are not lucky. United conceded two goals in the last few minutes today against Everton. It can happen to us the same."

West Ham boss Avram Grant remains bullish despite his team being rooted to the foot of the table without a point and having conceded three goals in each of their four games.

England international goalkeeper Green, who blundered in the World Cup, was at fault for Chelsea's second but he continues to have the support of his manager.

"Every player has good days and bad days," said Grant. "We're winning as a team and losing as a team. I don't like to speak about individual players.

"It's not easy when you concede the first goal. They came out very well and found the second goal. It's amazing because Chelsea didn't create any chances in that first half.

"Even their goal wasn't a good chance. We created three chances, then conceded. We could easily have scored, but didn't. We have a lot of positive things to take from the game. If we continue like this, the future will be good

"If you saw the level we played, it's not a team for relegation. The team will improve and improve. We have improved a lot of things, but if we play like this it'll be good."

But with speculation over his future at Upton Park already beginning to surface, Grant continues to insist he is here for the long term.

"I'm not happy we lost the game," he added. "We have zero points, and we've deserved more from our last two home games.

"The owners won't be happy either, but they know it's a long-term project. I don't think we'll be in this position after 25 or 30 games."

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