Ancelotti: Title hopes rest on beating United

CHELSEA manager Carlo Ancelotti believes his side need to beat leaders Manchester United in March to stand any chance of retaining their championship after dropping yet more points in the title race yesterday.

Ciaran Clark’s late, late equaliser for Villa in a 3-3 draw stunned Stamford Bridge into silence and leaves Chelsea in fifth place in the Premier League — out of the Champions League places — after only one victory in their last eight league matches.

But Ancelotti, who takes his side to Wolves on Wednesday sitting six points behind United — who also have a game in hand with the potential to go nine points clear — is adamant all is not yet lost.

“First they have to win, second the gap is not large,” he said. “Everything is open. But obviously we have to beat them here. Then we can say something about the title.”

“But it’s not over because we are improving. I think we can say something again this season.”

Ancelotti admitted he was hugely disappointed to throw away two points after seeing his side produce a thunderous comeback from 2-1 down to lead 3-2 with only injury time to play. But he refuses to admit Chelsea have forgotten how to win.

“We lost confidence, not our winning mentality,” he said. “We have to improve but we are improving.”

Chelsea go to Molineux needing nothing other than three points and Ancelotti hinted defensive problems could prompt him to make signings this month. Chelsea had to play youngster Jeffrey Bruma alongside John Terry yesterday because Branislav Ivanovic was suspended and Alex injured.

“I think we have to look at the condition of Alex when he comes back before we decide if we buy. This week he comes back from Brazil so we have to look. I don’t like to speak now about which players we need. But we need some players. ”

Villa manager Gerard Houllier, meanwhile, refused to discuss transfers, saying: “I want to focus on the games because they come thick and fast. Don’t ask me questions about the transfer window.”

But he hopes his team’s superb performance yesterday will end speculation that some of the players at Villa Park — including Ireland’s Richard Dunne who was reported to have been involved in a training ground fracas with assistant manager Gary McAllister — are not fully behind their manager.

John Carew and Habib Beye have also had public falling outs at Villa and were nowhere to be seen in west London. But Dunne earned a recall for the match following behind-the-scenes talks that also included teammate Stephen Ireland and was superb in defence as Villa battled to the end.

“I’ve read so many things that really stun me that are nothing to do with the truth,” said Houllier. “Sometimes a player who is not playing calls his agent and his agent calls the press. We know that.”

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