Club Focus – Chelsea – Ancelotti resigned to defeat in title chase as crisis deepens

The crisis at reigning Premier League champions Chelsea worsened as their woeful form continued and the pressure on manager Carlo Ancelotti increased again in the wake of the Blues’ latest defeat, 1-0 away to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday night.

Going in to the clash with the Midlanders, who started the game bottom of the Premier League, the Italian assured his side would fight their way to victory and a springboard back into the title race, after a dreadful run of 10 points in 10 matches left them staring enviously at their title rivals from back in fifth place.

However, Jose Bosingwa succeeded only in deflecting Stephen Hunt’s corner into his own net after five minutes. Subsequently watching helplessly as Chelsea failed to find a way back into the game thanks to some poor finishing combined with resolute Wolves defending, Ancelotti was forced to concede his side’s hope of retaining their title have effectively been extinguished: “It’s very difficult to win the league now but the most important thing is to come back and play football, to fight and move on,” Ancelotti said after the game at Molineux. Yet despite presiding over the clubs’ worst run since the 1995/96 season and the notorious recent history of his employers for sacking previous failing managers for less than the current difficulties his side have faced, Ancelotti remained stoutly assured that his job was not under threat, though he did admit he is under pressure to stop the depressing run. “I don’t fear for my job,” the Italian insisted. “Obviously I am under pressure. My position is solid at this moment. I’m under pressure because the team didn’t reach the result we wanted.”

The goalless effort was the Blues’ sixth failure to find the net in the league this season, a far cry from the fluent goal scoring machine that took the title last year, scoring a top flight record 103 goals along the way and just once drawing blank. The depth of their struggle in the final third is magnified by the fact that Chelsea, having scored 21 goals in their opening five Premier League matches, have since scored just 15 goals in 16 games. Last seasons’ Premier League Golden Boot winner Didier Drogba continues to seem affected by the outbreak of malaria revealed back in November and has scored just twice since the start of October, when he hit the net against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. He did find a way past Wayne Hennessey in the Wolves goal, only to strike the foot of the post, while fellow Ivorian Salomon Kalou continued to frustrate Blues fans, erratically missing Chelsea’s best chance to equalise in the second half.

With a break from the Premier League coming up due to the FA Cup third round and nine days until their next league match at home to Blackburn Rovers, the Londoners have the opportunity to include youth and fringe players this weekend as they begin their defence of the FA Cup with a win as they host Championship side Ipswich Town on Sunday.

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