NEWCASTLE (1) v/s CHELSEA (1)
CHELSEA manager Carlo Ancelotti is preparing to fast-track John Terry and Frank Lampard back into action after seeing his side lose top spot in the Premier League for the first time since April.
The Blues’ dire run of league form continued yesterday at Newcastle, where they needed a Salomon Kalou equaliser to claim a point after gifting Andy Carroll the opener with a defensive howler. It means they have taken just four points from a possible 15 and, for the first time since 24 April last season, are not staring down at the rest of the top flight following the weekend’s play.
Chelsea’s slump has coincided with injuries to stalwarts Terry and Lampard but Ancelotti hopes to have them both available by the time Everton visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
“Next week they will start to train with the team,” he said. “We have a week to control their condition and I hope both will be able to play against Everton. They are very important players, not just technically, but because they have personality and character, and at the moment we need to have that kind of player at our disposal.”
Ancelotti’s need for Terry to return is even greater because centre-back Alex is set to fly home to Brazil today for surgery on a long-standing knee problem. And he will depart on a sour note, having handed Newcastle the lead when his backpass proved too strong for Petr Cech, and Carroll beat the goalkeeper to the loose ball before scoring from an acute angle.
Kalou levelled on the stroke of half-time, cutting in from the left to shoot low past Tim Krul via a slight deflection off defender Steven Taylor. The Ivory Coast forward missed a golden chance to win the game in the closing stages, but found the side netting with the goal at his mercy, while Didier Drogba had an effort disallowed.
Ancelotti hopes the jolt of losing top spot to Manchester United will prompt his flagging team to show fortitude. “It is important,” the Italian said. “At the moment, it is not so easy and we have to show our character. It will be a good motivation to do better.”