CHELSEA manager Carlo Ancelotti insists securing a top four finish in the Premier League remains his side’s priority despite appearing to re-enter the title race last night.
John Terry’s 20th minute header allied to Frank Lampard’s second-half brace secured an ultimately comfortable win against plucky Blackpool, who were unlucky not to have more than Jason Puncheon’s late consolation to show for their efforts.
Victory moved Chelsea to within nine points of leaders Manchester United with a game in hand and with Ancelotti’s side scheduled to make a trip to Old Trafford in May, suddenly an opportunity to stage an unlikely defence of their crown has arisen.
But Ancelotti is adamant that cementing Champions League qualification remains his main objective.
“Now we have nine points, we have to play another game against Birmingham, but I think it’s too far to think we can come back to fight for the title,” Ancelotti said. “It is better for us, and easier for us, to think game by game.
“I think our aim at this moment is to stay in the first four places of the table. Obviously we are closer to Man United but we don’t have to think because it is too far, we have to prepare for the next game because it is game by game.”
Having tested Blackpool goalkeeper Richard Kingson from range a couple of times, Chelsea took the lead from a corner swung out by Lampard and powered home by Terry.
Petr Cech was then called into action to push Puncheon’s low shot onto the post and tip over an Ian Evatt chip. Blackpool started the second half on top but the wind was taken from their sails when Lampard struck twice in four minutes just past the hour.
The England midfielder converted from the spot after substitute Salomon Kalou had been felled and then finished coolly from eight yards after he had been fed by the Ivorian.
Puncheon struck a deserved consolation four minutes from time, but that did little to dent Lampard’s renewed title optimism.
“We have to believe. It is a long shot and we have a lot to do but if we go and win every game we will have a great chance to do it, but it will be very difficult,” he said. “If we win every game we still have a chance but Arsenal and United are good sides and they have a good lead.”