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Carlo Ancelotti: Euro pain for United and Arsenal can be Chelsea's gain in title race

02 Apr 2010 01:44:01

Carlo Ancelotti: Euro pain for United and Arsenal can be Chelsea's gain in title race

Carlo Ancelotti has confessed to having mixed feelings when he saw Wayne Rooney's ankle give way in Munich. As England fretted about their talisman's fitness, the Chelsea manager glimpsed his title chance. Feeling the pain: Wayne Rooney lies injured on the pitch in Munich 'Above all, you know how I respect him, not only as a player,' said Ancelotti. 'For me, he is the best in the world now and very professional. His image is good for football and I like this kind of player. I was sorry for him but I think without Rooney, for us, it is better.' Chelsea will be the first to benefit from Rooney's enforced absence when they travel to Manchester United at the end of a week when Ancelotti discovered there might yet be a silver lining to the Champions League exit which cast doubts on his future. His players have spent the week at their training base, resting aches and pains, April-fooling around and focusing on tomorrow's lunchtime kick-off at Old Trafford while their title rivals suffered from the rigours of Europe. Arsenal are reeling from Barcelona's visit and injuries to the influential trio of Cesc Fabregas, William Gallas and Andrey Arshavin, while United - having lost to Bayern Munich - must cope without 34-goal Rooney for the next month or so. 'Everyone knows how important Rooney is,' said Ancelotti. 'He is a fantastic player who has had a fantastic season. This injury could be an advantage for us but sometimes a team give more than 100 per cent when a very important player is out. Manchester United have the experience and the players to support the loss of Rooney.' Counting the cost: Arsenal are reeling from injuries to key trio of Cesc Fabregas, William Gallas and Andrey Arshavin Chelsea may suddenly look the club in the best shape to attack the Barclays Premier League, but their boss is conscious of his own injury list, which includes three of his first-choice back four. 'We have Essien, Ashley Cole, Bosingwa, Ivanovic and Carvalho all out,' said Ancelotti. 'Every team has a lot of injuries. I would like Manchester United to use Rooney against us and I would like Fabregas to play for Arsenal, if I could have my players ready.' This has not been a routine first season at Stamford Bridge for the former AC Milan manager, with offfield scandals engulfing defenders John Terry and Ashley Cole and a transfer ban - now lifted - from FIFA over French teenager Gael Kakuta. The loss of four first-team players to the Africa Cup of Nations and injuries - especially Michael Essien and Ashley Cole, who provide so much of the zip in a solid and at times one-paced team - have been overcome with little fuss from the Italian. Perhaps he deserves his change in fortune. Essien, who has not played for Chelsea since early December, isunlikely to appear again this season. He is training in the pool as herecovers from a knee injury, but there was a more positive bulletin onCole, who is on course to return against Stoke in three weeks. 'The England medical staff are in contact with ours and he will beready for the World Cup,' said Ancelotti, who also confirmed DidierDrogba will start up front at Old Trafford. Drogba, who was visited by new Ivory Coast boss Sven Goran Eriksson at the Chelsea training ground yesterday, missed two days of training this week after a kick to his knee and is being carefully managed through a groin problem which may require minor surgery at the end of the season. 'He has been living with this problem for three or four months,' said Ancelotti. 'Sometimes he has a problem after the game but during the week he is OK. He doesn't need an operation now. If he has one at the end of the season he will be ready seven days.' Drogba was rested as Chelsea stole seven against Aston Villa last weekend but he will not be left out of the United game, when Ancelotti wants to seize the initiative. Victory at Old Trafford will lift the Blues two points clear at the top of the league with five to play. Despite tricky fixtures ahead away at Tottenham and Liverpool, this match could decide the club's future. 'We have a very good chance,' said Ancelotti, who has beaten United twice this season, in the Community Shield and the Premier League. 'This game will be different. We are playing for the title and psychologically it is different. 'We are fit and confidence has improved after Portsmouth and Aston Villa. It will be a very important game. 'If we can win, it's better for us. If it ends a draw, that's not a bad result because we have a lot of games and every one is important. We have lost a lot of points against smaller teams and so have United. Arsenal are still very close. We are not going there for a draw, we go there to win. 'I know it is difficult to win at Old Trafford but it is a fantastic stadium for me also, not only for Sir Alex. I won the Champions League there in 2003 and I have good memories - the best memories of my career. I will always love that stadium.'  Over to the Understudies: Sportsmail checks out who's in reserve for the title contendersEdin Dzeko tantilises Chelsea and Manchester City by opening door to move to England Double trouble for Man United as Drogba returns for title showdownMourinho ready to offer Balotelli in bid to finally sign Gerrard from Liverpool


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