Carlo Ancelotti believes that Chelsea’s title defense is out of reach as the Blues prepare to entertain Birmingham at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Speaking to the media Ancelotti revealed that despite the Blues fine form since the turn of the year, the poor form and spiraling results of a difficult winter period have cost the defending Premier League champions the chance to retain their title.
‘The gap doesn’t allow us to think we can win the title because we are eight points behind Manchester United so it is better for us to think we have to prepare well the next game against Birmingham, try to win, and try to win the other five games and wait and see what happens in the table.
‘Obviously the first thing is to win the title; the second thing is to reach the position that allows us to play in the Champions League next year,’ he said.
Birmingham travel to Stamford Bridge six points clear of the relegation zone after victories against Sunderland and Bolton leave Alec Mcleish’s side with an excellent chance of beating the drop. Birmingham will face a tougher challenge against a wounded Chelsea side.
With a confidence boosting 3-1 away win at West Brom on Saturday in which a revitalised Dider Drogba found the net and put in a man of the match performance, the Blues will be looking to consolidate their top four status and push Arsenal all the way for 2nd place in the table after the Gunners dramatic 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday.
‘It is very difficult to change the team that played so well against West Brom, not just the result or the performance but they had a very good reaction,’ he said. ‘It was a good opportunity to show their character and they did very well against West Bromwich.
‘All the players that were involved in the game reacted very well with confidence, personality, playing good football.
‘This team in the last months and more did very well in the Premier League. Obviously the defeat against Man United was not good for us but in the Premier League this team played good football and won a lot of games.
‘Two months ago nobody could think that we could come back to fight for the title, we don’t think this but we are not so far from Manchester United, very close to Arsenal and two months ago this was a dream,” he said.
Ancelotti believes that a 2nd place finish would be a fantastic achievement for his side given the struggles they have faced during this campaign.
Since Chelsea’s recent exit from the Champions League there has been growing speculation that the manager will depart SW6 in the Summer with former club A.S Roma being touted as a possible destination but Ancelotti refused to be drawn on the reports, instead reiterating his commitment to his current employers.
Fernando Torres struggles in a blue shirt continued on Saturday, replacing Drogba in the 82nd minute from the bench searching for a first goal since his arrival at Chelsea. In truth the Spaniard had little time to make an impact but was unlucky when he raced behind the West Brom defence and casually slotted the ball past Scott Carson only to have his effort ruled offside
Brazilian duo Alex and Ramires missed the weekend’s trip with muscle strains andAncelotti revealed that the pair will miss out again for the visit of Birmingham and remain sidelined for West Ham on Saturday, with Branislav Ivanovic also struggling for fitness:
‘Alex and Ramires will not be involved, we have a problem with Ivanovic and we will check today in the training session,” he said.
‘They are out, I think also against West Ham and they will be ready to play against Tottenham. They are hamstring injuries. Ivanovic is just a little one, he has a tight muscle, he will train and I think he will be okay tomorrow.’