| 1.1°C Dublin

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti hails 'perfect captain' John Terry

It is not quite the universal view across England, but Carlo Ancelotti hailed John Terry as his "perfect" captain following a towering performance that helped Chelsea return to the top of the Premier League.

With important contributions in defence and attack, particularly his headed assist for Didier Drogba's opening goal, Terry showed little sign of his football being affected by the loss of the England captaincy or a wave of allegations about his private life.

Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, even suggested that the distraction of playing would bring out the best in Terry.

Ancelotti has also already signalled that he would be willing to allow Terry to miss Saturday's FA Cup match against Cardiff if he needs to travel to Dubai to spend time with his wife, Toni.

"My captain has a fantastic attitude and is doing very well every game," said Ancelotti. "For Chelsea, he is the perfect captain for sure. For the team, it is very important to have this leadership. He really has a strong mentality."

Terry and Ancelotti embraced on the touchline after the game, but the manager said that it had been a gesture of appreciation for yesterday's performance rather than any statement of thanks from his captain.

Drogba, who has now scored 12 goals in 10 starts against Arsenal, also stressed that the dressing room still supported Terry, who is alleged to have had an affair with the former fiancé of Wayne Bridge, his ex-Chelsea team-mate.

"It's a difficult week for us at Chelsea, for all the club," said Drogba. "We will stick together. Of course we offered him as much support as we can – I think the best for him is to play."

That was certainly a sentiment endorsed by Wenger. "He is strong enough to make the difference between what is happening on the pitch [and off it]," said Wenger. "Sometimes for people to play football can be a diversion from what is happening off the field. I had some players when they had private problems they were even stronger on the pitch because it was the place they can get out of it."

Despite the 2-0 defeat – Arsenal's eighth loss in nine games against Manchester United or Chelsea – Wenger was rather less generous with his overall assessment of the match.

"We didn't get a demonstration of football but they were efficient," he said. "They defended very well, the pitch was difficult and, on one or two occasions, I believe we were a bit unlucky with decisions from the referee. We had mountains of possession. We were a bit uncertain at the start but, when we went into it, we were completely dominant.

"They make the foul when they are caught on the counter-attack at the right period at the right place in the middle of the pitch. The little foul – just a little push with the shirt. It's not enough to get a yellow card. They have a lot of tricks of a very experienced team. They are 29, we are 23."

Wenger also said that Nicklas Bendtner was adamant he should have had a penalty for a second-half challenge from Ashley Cole.

Ancelotti, whose team now have a nine-point cushion over Arsenal, simply pointed out that a football match is not only decided by the statistics relating to possession.

"Maybe they did have more possession but this is not football. Football is attack, defence and results. I think we deserved to win. We did a fantastic counter-attack and scored an unbelievable second goal," the Italian said.

Ancelotti does also remain wary of Arsenal's threat in the Premier League title race but accepted that the league is essentially in Chelsea or Manchester United's hands.

Terry went even further in his programme notes, saying that the league was now "ours to win".

For Arsenal, the match on Wednesday against Liverpool assumes even greater significance. "We are a bit unfortunate as well to play Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool on the trot," said Wenger. "If you lose one game, the psychological implications of the next game are very difficult."

The Football Association, meanwhile, are expected to launch an investigation after a flare was lit in the Arsenal end during Sunday's match and an object was also thrown onto the pitch from the same section of the ground.

© Telegraph.co.uk