Club Focus – Chelsea – Attention turns towards Champions League as Blues slip up domestically

All the statements regarding the improvement of Chelsea’s form turned out to be short-lived. The Blues had a weekend to forget as they could only salvage a draw against Stoke City on Saturday. With Manchester United putting up an impressive performance against West Ham United Chelsea were under increased pressure to get all three points against Tony Pulis’ men, in order to keep their slim Premier League title hopes alive. The Blues were not the only ones who dropped points however, as Arsenal were also held to a draw against Blackburn Rovers, something that will leave Carlo Ancelotti even more disappointed, as his team lost a chance to close in on second position in the league table.

The focus now will be turned towards the European stage, as the Blues prepare for their first-leg quarter-final against United. Ancelotti will have a lot of points to improve on from over the weekend. Chelsea looked a very ordinary side against Stoke, who at many times threatened to take all three points. A fine performance by Petr Cech was the main reason as to why Chelsea salvaged a point. United, on the other hand, showed the determination and character to come back from a two-goal deficit at the break. This is sure to lift the confidence of the players, who will be looking to take the game to Chelsea on Wednesday night. A big boost to Sir Alex Ferguson is the fact that Antonio Valencia will be available for the clash.

Carlo Ancelotti will have the advantage of concentrating all his efforts on the Champions League now. It can be said that the Italian’s chances of winning the league seem bleak, which just might give Chelsea an excuse to save their best for Europe. In what is arguably the most anticipated quarter-final, the battle of words has already begun. Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed that Chelsea have never deserved to win against United for the past two seasons. The Scotsman cited that if it were not for refereeing decisions favouring the Blues, they would have not registered a victory over the Red Devils.

Ancelotti, however, remains diplomatic, stating that it is Chelsea’s destiny to win the Champions League this season. The Italian refused to be drawn into a battle with Ferguson regarding the refereeing decisions. Ferguson however, should consider Chelsea’s unforgettable semi-final clash against Barcelona under Guus Hiddink, before claiming that officials favour the Blues. Refereeing mistakes are part of the game and it would be a shame if Ferguson brought up this issue again after the quarter-final. One thing every fan will be hoping for is a good game with no controversy at the end, but in a game of this magnitude it is hard to believe that is possible.

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