Under-fire Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti refused to suggest his side’s problems were behind them after Sunday’s 7-0 FA Cup third round destruction of Ipswich Town saw the Blues start their FA Cup defence with a bang.
Having slid from top of the table in October to fifth in the New Year after a horror run of just ten points from 11 Premier League games and one win in nine, their worst run in 14 years, a break for the FA Cup third round proved just the relief needed as the Blues secured a comfortable victory over Championship side Ipswich. Ancelotti urged his players to use the impetus gained from the morale boosting win to get their ailing Premier League form back on track and focus on getting back into the title race: “I’m
Daniel Sturridge strengthened his claim for a regular spot in Ancelotti’s starting line-up with two goals against the Tractor Boys, this coming after hitting the net five times in a reserve match midweek against Tottenham. The England Under-21 international made his 40th appearance for the club in Sunday’s win, a game that ensued the Blues would pay former employers Manchester City a further £500,000 as part of a clause agreed at the tribunal to determine the youngsters’ transfer fee between the two clubs, meaning Chelsea have now paid £5.5m to secure the talented forwards’ services with another £1m due should he play for the England during his time in London.
Ancelotti spoke of his delight at the young striker’s contribution and suggested a regular place for the 21-year-old may not be far away with continued improvement: “Everyone has to be ready when the moment arrives and Daniel played well,” the Blues boss told the club’s official website. “He is a very good striker, very dangerous and he will have opportunities in future because we have a lot of games in the next period.”
Away from the pitch, with the January transfer window open and the opportunity to strengthen an injury-weakened squad, Chelsea fans were invited to nominate potential transfer targets they would like to see at Stamford Bridge by the club’s official website, with two central defenders and a centre-forward rounding off the top three players craved by Blues followers. Bolton Wanderers defender Gary Cahill topped the vote, a player linked to many top clubs after his impressive rise though the ranks to an England call-up at the age of 25. Second place went to David Luiz of Benfica, another central defender, although the Brazilian is seen as versatile across the backline. He was rumoured to be the subject of a Chelsea bid last summer and has also attracted the interest of Manchester City recently. Finally, Sergio Aguero, the 22-year-old Argentine striker was the third most wanted player by Chelsea fans as a potential replacement for Drogba when the Ivorian leaves Stamford Bridge. Aguero signed a two-year contract extension with current club Atletico Madrid last week, but the forward has a £38m release clause and has been on the Blues’ radar since scoring twice against them in the Champions League group stage last season.