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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Every game a cup final for Blues: Ancelotti

Chelsea boss sets double challenge after demolition of Portsmouth

Carlo Ancelotti believes his Chelsea side must prepare for their remaining matches like they are cup finals if they are to end the season as Premier League champions.

The Blues thrashed bottom club Portsmouth 5-0 at Fratton Park last night thanks to braces from Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba, as well as Frank Lampard's injury-time effort.

The win signalled the end of a two-match winless run which saw Chelsea crash out of the Champions League and fall behind Manchester United in the title race.

The Blues now sit one point behind United, who they face a week on Saturday after taking on Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge this weekend.

Ancelotti played down the importance of the win and admitted his side still have a lot of work to do in their remaining matches to win the league and the FA Cup, where they face Villa in the semi final next month.

"We needed to have this performance, we needed to win," said the Italian after last night's victory.

"I hope that bad period for us is finished. We'll only know on Saturday whether it has but tonight we played well, stayed focused for 90 minutes and put in a good performance. It was necessary to do this.

"We are involved in the Premier League and the FA Cup, so maybe eight or nine games until the end of the season, so we need to maintain this period and this spirit to play.

"We have to prepare for these remaining games like they are finals.

"It won't be easy, but it's important to stay involved in the Premier League."

Last night's match took a controversial twist just before half-time when Pompey full-back Ricardo Rocha had to be stretchered off with a cheekbone injury after clashing with Malouda.

Ancelotti believes the Frenchman did not intend to harm the former Spurs player though.

"I saw what the referee saw. It was a challenge with two heads," said Ancelotti. "Malouda put his head to take the ball, and Rocha was unlucky.

"We're disappointed for him because he's injured, but Malouda did not mean to hurt him. It was an accident.

"The referee gave him a yellow card, which was right. Malouda put his head in, not his arm."

Drogba's clinical finishing saw him take his tally to 30 for the season, much to the delight of Ancelotti.

"It's a very important season for him. He's a fantastic striker who's had some very good play," said Ancelotti. "But I'm looking for what he can do in the next nine games. I hope he hasn't finished scoring."

Meanwhile, Portsmouth first-team coach Paul Groves is adamant that his side will not be distracted by worries of a fire sale at the crisis club.

Yesterday the Premier League accepted Pompey's request to be allowed to sell players outside the transfer window in order to ease their dire financial situation.

The south coast side, who are 14 points adrift of safety after last night's 5-0 defeat, have already been docked nine points for going into administration earlier this month.

With the club now unlikely to retain their top-flight status, they may sell stars such as Nadir Belhadj and David James to raise some much needed cash.

Groves admits some players may have to be sacrificed in order to save the club, but insists neither he nor the players will be distracted by off-the-field matters.

"We may have to sell some players," said Groves. "There's not too many fit players left to sell though. You look at the back four and we had two right- footers playing at left-back and right-back and in the middle you have Marc (Wilson), who's been playing most of the season in midfield.

"From a financial point of view it's out of our hands. It's something that will be dealt with by other people.

"There's always been a fantastic spirit amongst them and they'll always grind out results for you."

The administrator charged with rescuing the club, Andrew Andronikou, insists Pompey are on track to climb out of administration before the start of next season.

"We're ahead of schedule at the moment, we're planning the CVA, the exit from administration and we're hoping to put those proposals to creditors in the next four to six weeks, eight weeks maximum," he said.

"We're fully confident that we'll be looking at exiting administration before we start the new season."

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