Ancelotti demands ruthlessness from Chelsea

CHELSEA manager Carlo Ancelotti has warned his players that they will have to stop taking their foot off the accelerator during games if they are to successfully retain their Barclays Premier League crown.

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, whose side face a tricky trip to Blackburn today, 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.”

Alex will return to the heart of the Chelsea defence for today’s trip to Ewood Park 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 title chances.

“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 United 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.”

Blackburn’s chief problem this season has been scoring goals – they have managed just six from their own players in nine league games this season, with the other two they have scored being own goals – and manager Sam Allardyce admits that is unlikely to change any time soon.

“We have to rely on everybody to try to score a goal rather than just your front-liners because our front-liners, I believe, will not score the sort of goal ratio that’s needed if nobody else is scoring.

“We need to win a lot of games 1-0 in this league because we’re on average not capable of scoring more than one goal a game.”

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