Carlo Ancelotti today insisted “we are ready” as his Chelsea side prepare to take on Stoke at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.
The Blues are currently third in the Premier League table, trailing the leaders Manchester United by 9 points but with a game in hand and a trip to Old Trafford on the horizon, Ancelotti’s charges are battling to the last to retain their title and Ancelotti feels his side are prepared for the task ahead:
“We come back to play our football, to play with confidence, to do a mistake now is very dangerous, not just for us, for every team. For Arsenal and Manchester United, that is football,” he said.
“I don’t know what we can do, but we have the possibility to fight and do our best. We have a great atmosphere in this team.”
The form of £50million arrival Fernando Torres has proved erratic with the Spanish striker yet to find the net for his new club, but with mood in the squad upbeat following on from consecutive victories, Anelotti is backing his man to succeed.
“He did not score, but he played well. It does not matter if he scores or not. We have been lucky we did not need their goals, in April we will and I am sure they will all score. I have had this before with Inzaghi, with Crespo, with Shevchenko,” he revealed.
With Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Saloman Kalou all fighting for a place alongside Torres in the starting lineup, Ancelotti faces tough decisions ahead but does not believe it will be a problem, whatever partnership he selects.
“This happens. It is not difficult to find a partnership because they can all play together. The choice is for physical condition sometimes tactics.”
With a full strength squad to choose from for the first time this season, Chelsea will head to Stoke full of confidence and with the titanic Champions League quarter final against Manchester United on Wednesday in the managers thoughts, Ancelotti may make use of the talented resources at his disposal and rotate the squad with Yuri Zhirkov, Jose Bosingwa and Jon Mikel Obi all in line for starts.
“It is the key to keep good performance and good motivation. They have to understand it is important for them and more importantly for the club.The strength of this team is the big players with personality play for the team not just themselves,” he said.
Yossi Benayoun’s return from 6 months out could prove to be pivotal in the Blues challenge for honours at this late stage in the season. Ancelotti was quick to heap praise on the attitude of the Israeli international after a tough rehabilitation period and revealed that he could be ready to return to the Blues line up in the Champions League clash at Old Trafford.
Reports linking Chelsea with Brazilian wonder kid Neymar have been rife this week following on from the players dazzling performance for Brazil against Scotland at the Emirates last weekend but Ancelotti ruled out a move for the star whilst praising his own player:
“He had a good performance, but the best player on the pitch was Ramires! It is good that he wants to play for Chelsea, he is a fantastic player but it is not important. We are not interested in this moment.”
Chelsea will face Stoke knowing the result of Manchester United’s lunchtime fixture against West Ham, it remains to be seen whether or not this Chelsea side can catch the league leaders and Carlo believes it is too soon to be drawn on the destination of the Premier League crown:
“It is too early, it is too far in this moment. It is not in our hands but if we have a possibility we are ready.”