CARLO ANCELOTTI says Chelsea can all but end Arsenal’s title hopes if they beat the Gunners in tomorrow’s crunch clash at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea go into the clash six points clear of Arsene Wenger’s side and know a victory could be terminal to the Gunners’ title chances.
Chelsea thought they had banished Arsenal’s interest in the league back in November when they beat the Gunners 3-0 at the Emirates to move eight points clear with a game in hand. But Chelsea’s poor run of form in December, coupled with Arsenal’s resurgence, put Wenger’s side back in the hunt.
However, Ancelotti acknowledges that defeat for their London rivals will make it difficult for them to recover the situation for a second time.
“I think it will be difficult for them to return to the top,” said Ancelotti.
“They are involved in the Champions League too, which starts up again soon, so it could be very difficult for them to stay in touch with Chelsea and Manchester United.
“Every game is different at the moment. In the last game against Arsenal, it was very good for us. We played the right way and did a very good defence and counter-attack. That’s the right way to play against Arsenal. We have a very good opportunity on Sunday to send Arsenal further away from our position, to get distance from them.”
The Chelsea coach insists John Terry has the full backing of the Stamford Bridge dressing room despite revelations about his private life.
The deposed England captain Terry, 29, has endured a week-long media furore following allegations that he had an affair with an ex-girlfriend of former team-mate Wayne Bridge.
Terry was sacked as England captain following a meeting with Fabio Capello yesterday, but Ancelotti insisted the player has remained professional.
As far as the Italian is concerned, Terry remains a valuable member of the squad and when asked if he still had the backing of the players, Ancelotti replied: “I think so. John speaks with his team-mates because he’s the captain of this team.
“He is focusing on his job. He’s doing very well every day, every moment. He’s the captain of this team so, with his behaviour, he’s doing his best for this team. And also he played very well in the last two games. He scored against Burnley. He’s in fantastic condition at the moment.
“The problem that involves John is outside our training ground and it’s a normal life for us. John’s mood is very normal.
“I have not spoken to him. It’s not necessary for me to speak to him about his private life.
“It’s his private life and I don’t want to know anything about this. I’m only interested in his professional behaviour and that is the best.
“I’m not interested in the private lives of the players. In the past some coaches phoned home to control their players, but I never did this in my career and I won’t in the future.
“I’m only interested in the players at the training ground and to control behaviour at the training ground. Private lives are an important thing – they should remain private.”
Ancelotti is fiercely supportive of his captain and maintains there was never any question of leaving Terry out of tomorrow’s showdown with Arsenal.
“John knows he has to play against Arsenal, he’s our captain,’’ Ancelotti said. “I did not consider resting him. John has to play because he’s one of the most important players in this team.
“And we need strength, experience and quality against them. We are preparing very well because it’s an important game against a strong team. We will be ready to play our best game.”
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