Ancelotti: Chelsea could knock Arsenal out of title race by weekend
Carlo Ancelotti believes that Chelsea – who are boosted by the return of Didier Drogba on Tuesday night – could knock Arsenal out of the Premier League title race by the end of the weekend.
Victory against Hull City on Tuesday, followed by a win over Arsène Wenger's side at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, would open up an 11-point gap between the two with just 14 league matches left.
"It is a big gap," Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, said. "If we win the game, we have the possibility to win against them on Sunday. If this happens then Arsenal has to run for third place."
Ancelotti welcomes back Drogba – and Salomon Kalou – after the Ivorians played in the Africa Cup of Nations and were rested at the weekend.
It is an unfortunate turn of events for Hull, as Tuesday night's game is a fixture rearranged from last month, although given Chelsea's free-scoring form without Drogba they have not missed the striker as much as was feared.
"We are playing really well, there is confidence in our play and I'm happy with this because now is a very important part of the season," Ancelotti said. "We will soon be starting the Champions League again, so it is important to stay top of the league."
There is more good news for Chelsea with John Obi Mikel returning to training on Tuesday, after also playing in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Ancelotti also declared himself pleased to have "won the bet" with reporters that he would not make any signings in the January transfer window.
John Terry will partner Ricardo Carvalho in the centre of defence on Tuesday with Deco also returning to the starting line-up.
Chelsea will make a late decision on Ashley Cole's sore ankle.