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Chelsea v Bolton Wanderers: Preview

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By: Na 29 Dec 2010 12:47:22

Chelsea v Bolton Wanderers: Preview

Petr Cech refuses to concede the Barclays Premier League title race even though he admits Chelsea's judgement on the pitch has deserted them.

The champions' slump has now descended into a full-blown crisis after embarking on their worst run since 1998 by dropping 18 points in their last eight games.

On November 6 they sat five points clear at the summit of the table, yet by the end of Wednesday's clash with Bolton they may occupy sixth place.

Chelsea were exposed once again at Emirates Stadium when their five-match winning sequence against Arsenal ended with a shattering 3-1 defeat.

Bereft of confidence against their title rivals, they were undone by two goals in 90 seconds from Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott shortly after half-time.

Trailing 3-0, they appeared powerless to stage a meaningful fightback and Cech admits they have become ruinously error-prone.

"We are not used to seeing Chelsea play the way we are playing at the moment," said the Czech keeper.

"The reality is we aren't doing the right things on the pitch, we are making mistakes and we got punished for the mistakes. On the second and third goals, it was really unlike Chelsea.

"I don't remember since I've been here us conceding two goals in one minute like that. We are making the wrong choices all over the pitch, defensive-wise and attacking-wise.

"We have stopped doing the things we were doing at the start of the season when we didn't concede goals and we were scoring a lot.

"Credit to everyone, we keep working on it and nobody's panicking. Nobody's happy with the situation but at the moment we can't find the right chemistry on the pitch.

"We will try to find a solution and keep working. "We aren't throwing the towel in yet because we know everything can change fast."

Defeat by the season's surprise package Bolton at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday would be disastrous and boss Carlo Ancelotti spelt out the importance of winning.

"Our difficult moment continues and we have to think about the next game against Bolton - it's not easy, but we have to try," said Ancelotti.

"We must stay focused and continue to work. We worked well in the last two weeks without football, but we didn't have a good performance against Arsenal.

"The table is not good, but this is the reality. We have to do better. It will be very difficult, but we have a game on Wednesday and we have to change things for the next game.

"Bolton are having a very good season, but for us it's important to win and improve our position in the table. That's the most important thing. We must pay attention."

Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka is a doubt for the clash, while Alex, Yuri Zhirkov and Yossi Benayoun remain sidelined.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle will not be fooled into thinking the trip a will be anything other than difficult.

He said: "I think going to Stamford Bridge at any time, with the quality Chelsea hold, is always a difficult ask. When we go there we expect a really tough game because of the quality they have, the strength in depth.

"There is no doubt come the end of the season Chelsea are going to be fighting out the major honours, that is for sure.

"We will pay them huge respect but I want my players to concentrate on what we can do and make a game of it. It is a game we will be ready for."

This week marks a year since Gary Megson was sacked as Bolton manager with the team in the bottom three. Former Wanderers striker Coyle took over in January after quitting Burnley and the progress since has been considerable.

Coyle's side have rid the club of a reputation for physical and direct football by winning plaudits for their fluent - and effective - style.

 That has put them in contention for a European place and Coyle prefers to look at potential rather than reflecting on any success so far.

He said: "I think we have done ever so well to this point but we can't affect that now - what we can affect is what is in front of us.

"I think there has been improvement from when I came in in January compared to where we are now. But that involves a lot of hard work and everybody buying into what you are doing.

"We have to continue that and make sure we are on the front foot. We are trying to gather as many points as we can."

Coyle, however, is short on numbers against Chelsea with South Korea winger Lee Chung-yong having now departed for the Asia Cup. With Gretar Steinsson doubtful with a knee injury and Tamir Cohen on compassionate leave, Coyle may now have only 17 fully-fit regular first-teamers available.


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