Club Focus – Chelsea – Injury boost for 2nd-placed Blues as Drogba demands improvement

Reigning Premier League champions Chelsea may be able to call upon John Terry and Frank Lampard for this weekend’s tie with Everton after receiving encouraging news on their return to fitness. The Blues have been without the key duo throughout a miserable November, which has seen them pick up just four points in five League games, with Terry missing the last three matches due to a nerve problem in his leg, while fellow England international Lampard has been ruled out since August, recovering from a groin operation. The latest round of matches saw the West Londoners relinquish their place at the top of the Premier League for the first time this season after dropping points on the road again at Newcastle, a 1-1 draw coming 24 hours after Manchester United overtook them at the summit on the back of a 7-1 thrashing of Blackburn. The point gained at St James’ Park by the Blues was not enough for Carlo Ancelotti’s men to reclaim the lead in the table and they now sit two points behind United after 15 games.

Manager Ancelotti spoke of his hope that one, if not both, of his most influential players will be in contention to return to action this weekend: “Next week will be an important one for Terry and Lampard,” the Italian said. “We have a week to control their condition and I hope both, maybe more Terry than Lampard, will be able to play against Everton.” With the much missed Michael Essien returning from suspension and the potential return of two such key figures, Blues fans will be looking for a return to Chelsea of old as they enter a critical December that will impact highly on the title race. The Blues lifted the Premier League crown last season due in no small part to their success in matches against their title rivals, as they achieved the League double over Arsenal and Manchester United. After Everton, Ancelotti’s side face a trip to London rivals Tottenham – currently fifth in the Premier League, with consecutive games against Sir Alex Ferguson’s table toppers, who visit Stamford Bridge, and third-placed Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium coming before the New Year.

Didier Drogba has taken the Chelsea armband in the absence of both regular club captain Terry and deputy Lampard in recent weeks and the Ivorian striker was vocal in his disappointment at the clubs’ recent slump after their latest failure to win: “It is maybe the worst run of form I’ve known since I came to the club,” the 32-year-old said. “It is not good and it is very frustrating. I know that during the season you can have moments like this and try your best to change it.” Drogba himself has not produced close to his best in recent matches since the revelation that he contracted malaria. After hitting six goals in seven games at the start of the season, including an opening day hat-trick against West Brom, he has not scored in the Premier League in his last seven games since finding the net in the 2-0 win over Arsenal on October 3.

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