Walk in the Parken


CHELSEA manager Carlo Ancelotti claimed his big-name strikers are comfortable with being part of a rotation policy after a Nicolas Anelka double all but booked his side’s place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Since the arrival of Fernando Torres, Ancelotti has unsuccessfully attempted to harness the Spaniard, Anelka and Didier Drogba in a three-pronged attack.

But last night the Italian took the bold step of reverting to a 4-4-2 formation, which meant a night of bench warming for Drogba.

As a result, Chelsea delivered their most cohesive performance since Torres joined from Liverpool, with the £50m man, despite not scoring, looking more like his usual self.

Ancelotti (right) said: “We want to maintain their fitness, but rotation could do them good with the Premier League and the Champions League.

“They are accepting my decisions without problems, and this is important. To have them available, it’s important at this time of year.

“We have fantastic strikers. I have to make a decision about the games, to put them in or not.

“Didier played for two hours against Everton. Torres and Anelka were fresh and, together, they played well.”

FC Copenhagen, unbeaten in the Champions League at the Parken Stadium, were expected to provide a stiff test.

But the Danish champions, currently in the midst of a winter break, looked well off the pace and were sliced apart time and again.

Anelka opened the scoring in the 17th minute, and an almost identical finish nine minutes after the break secured a confidence boosting victory.

The return leg at Stamford Bridge on 16 March ought now to be a formality, and Ancelotti believes the manner of last night’s performance reinforced his view that all is not lost this season. Indeed, his side face an exciting few weeks which will see both Manchester clubs travel to west London, and there’s also the matter of a tough trip to Blackpool sandwiched in between.

“We are still alive,” he said. “I had an idea before the game, and I maintain it. We are not dead. It’s just one game, though. I want to see my team play again, again, again.”

As for Torres, whose search for a first goal in Chelsea colours goes on, he said: “Torres had a lot of opportunities that he created with his movement. I am sure that he will score in the next game he plays.”


0 mins: Reverting to 4-4-2 forced Ancelotti to dispense with one of his big-name strikers. Drogba was the man forced to start on the bench and it proved to be the right call

17 mins: Anelka latched onto former Chelsea winger Gronkjaer’s wayward pass, raced into the penalty area, shifted the ball onto his right foot and drilled it beyond the goalkeeper

54 mins: Essien shoveled the ball onto Lampard who managed squeeze a perfectly weighted pass between two defenders, and Anelka finished beautifully across Wiland