Club Focus – Chelsea – Winter blues are over and its time to repair the damage

Reigning champions Chelsea will be hoping the weekend improvement shown in their 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur has seen the end to their worst run of results in a decade. Not since the days of Gianluca Vialli’s management back in 1999 have the Blues struggled as they have over recent weeks. Yet despite winning just once and accumulating just six points from 21 available from their last seven Premier League games, Carlo Ancelotti’s side sit in fourth place and are only three points behind new leaders Manchester United who leapfrogged Arsenal and Manchester City with a 1-0 win over the Gunners on Monday night.

Chelsea fell behind to Roman Pavlychenko’s 15th minute goal in Sunday’s clash at White Hart Lane, but managed to rally a strong second-half performance with Didier Drogba appearing from the bench to score his first goal from open play since the beginning of October. The Ivorian missed a golden opportunity to win the game for the Blues in injury time when he saw his penalty kick saved by Heurelho Gomes in the Tottenham goal, but the result and performance showed a significant progression from the past six weeks.

Speculation had been rife that manager Carlo Ancelotti’s future was on the line over the next few matches, though that notion was always ridiculed by the man himself, having led Chelsea to the first League and FA Cup double in their 105 year history last season in his first year in charge. The Italian reflected on the Tottenham result with satisfaction, suggesting it was the turning point in the Premier League holders season and a timely end to their recent poor form: “I think we are on the right way. We deserved to win. We were very close, we will win our next game,” the 51-year-old remarked. “We have a lot of possibilities when we recover all our players. I think this difficult moment is on our back.”

Goalkeeper Petr Cech also insisted that the Blues had turned the corner with the weekend result at White Hart Lane and that the club would be turning their sights on this Sunday’s match at home to Sir Alex Ferguson’s table-topping side. “When you reflect back on the game we did very well,” the Czech Republic international told the club’s official website. “We didn’t allow them to have great chances and we could have snatched it at the end – but when you are in a difficult moment, a point in a difficult game is an important step forward and now we can get ready and prepared for the Man United game.”

Midfielder Frank Lampard importantly made his long-awaited return from injury after spending three months on the sideline and missing 20 games, including the entire of the clubs’ Champions League campaign to date. He spoke of his desire to get back to playing his best as quickly as possible to help reignite Chelsea’s ailing title challenge: “It has been frustrating to be missing, but it is a beautiful feeling to be back. My groin felt very good and I have a nice long week until the next game now.” In the wake of the longest absence of his Chelsea career, Lampard will no doubt be itching to add to his 158 goals for the club. Blues fans will hope it comes at Stamford Bridge this Sunday against their familiar Northern rivals.

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