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Ancelotti faces dilemma over strike force for United clash

Chelsea will face Manchester United next week with "no fear, just passion" captain John Terry said yesterday, although there will be apprehension from Didier Drogba as to where -- and if -- he fits into Carlo Ancelotti's plans.

Drogba did not start Tuesday's Champions League tie away to FC Copenhagen, with the Chelsea manager offering the excuse that the striker, who is 33 next month, needed to be rested after playing 120 minutes against Everton in the FA Cup last Saturday.

With almost a full week's rest and preparation before what Terry termed a "must-win" encounter at home to United next Tuesday, Ancelotti will have all his big-name strikers -- Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Fernando Torres -- fit.

Torres can expect to start and, after his two goals and, more importantly, the convincing way in which he combined with the Spanish striker, Anelka should also play.


Juggling how to keep all three happy -- and fitting them into whatever system he wants to play -- may well define Ancelotti's time at Chelsea even more than the Premier League and FA Cup double he achieved last season.

With the manager remaining under severe pressure -- his relief in Denmark was palpable -- Chelsea need to find some consistency. That may not come if they have to chop and change their strike force, which would appear to spell bad news for Drogba.

The Ivorian knows that his time at Chelsea is rapidly drawing to a close and it seems unlikely that he will be at the club at the start of next season.

One complication is that Ancelotti is also unlikely to be there either, with Roma still monitoring his future closely following the resignation of Claudio Ranieri and the appointment of temporary coach Vincenzo Montella.

Ancelotti has cut a disenchanted figure at times this season and he has also made his unhappiness known.

Chelsea are currently 12 points behind United, but the more pressing concern is finishing in the top four, so ensuring qualification for next season's Champions League. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent