Tuesday 20 March 2018

Ancelotti talks up crunch encounter

Carlo Ancelotti. Photo: Getty Images
Carlo Ancelotti. Photo: Getty Images

Coach Carlo Ancelotti has labelled Chelsea's home clash with Everton tomorrow as one of the most important of the season as the Blues seek to return to winning ways.

Chelsea have gone three games without a win in the Barclays Premier League but are boosted by the return of captain John Terry after injury.

The London outfit have scored just two goals in their last five league outings and Ancelotti has told his players they must regain their focus against the Toffees.

"It could be very important tomorrow," said Ancelotti. "I put on my players pressure for this game. This is normal.

"I want to see everything we can do - character, personality, good play. I think it is one of the most important games for us this season.

"We lost our position at the top of the table, we didn't score a lot of goals. Everything was wrong. But, now, we want to close this period. We have to close this period with a victory. That's the target.

"It's not so important to be top now. We have to be there at the end of the season. We must focus on this game.

"It's very important that we move on quickly. I've told the players that before training. I said we had to stay focused and play better. To try everything to win."

Chelsea also have crucial games against Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United later this month and Ancelotti admits it could be a defining period for the team.

"The month could define our season if we're not able to be competitive in this period. But I think that, in this period, we will be able to do our best."

The return of Terry after three months on the sidelines with a sciatic nerve problem is the biggest boost for the Italian.

Terry will replace Brazilian defender Alex, who has undergone knee surgery and will be out for up to eight weeks.

The England international defender is training without pain and is ready to play.

"He trained well this week," said Ancelotti. "He didn't have a problem and shows good condition.

"He will start. Alex had surgery this week. He had his knee cleaned, and now needs six to eight weeks to recover. The other players are fit and in good condition.

"It's very important to have John back because he's our captain, a player with strong personality.

"At this moment it's very important to show personality and be strong. The other players have to show these skills, not just John.

"We have to come back to win and play good football. It's important tomorrow to win because we want to look forward.

"It will be a very important period of the season, and we need to change this moment. So, tomorrow, it may be the most important game of the season.

"We had a problem last season against Everton. They're not doing so well now, but always they've been a difficult team, strong with good organisation. We have to pay attention. But our aim is to win."

Meanwhile, striker Didier Drogba has admitted that he has not yet fully recovered from his recent bout of malaria but is improving all the time.

"I really feel good because a few weeks ago I was in a poor condition, I was sick, and now I can make runs and create some good opportunities," said Drogba.

"It's just the goals that are missing and they will come. What I had is not common, it is not something like flu where you have it and a week after you feel good.

"Normally with malaria you are out for two months. I have lost weight, my body has not recovered fully yet but I am much better.

"I am not worried because I know what malaria is, and normally it takes a long time to recover, but I think I am a few weeks ahead of where I should be so I am really happy."

Press Association

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