Nicolas Anelka happy to be schooled in Chelsea's art of attack
17 October 2009 02:14
Nicolas Anelka's willingness to learn is helping him to become one of the most feared strikers in Europe.
The Chelsea and France international has scored both of the Blues' match-winning goals in the Champions League this season.
He grabbed the winner in the home victory over FC Porto and followed that up with a sublime strike against Apoel Nicosia in Cyprus.
Anelka has scored five goals so far this season and his form in Europe has enabled Chelsea to overcome the absence of suspended Ivory Coast international striker Didier Drogba.
Drogba was banned for three games by UEFA following his foul-mouthed rant at the referee following their controversial semi-final defeat to eventual winners Barcelona last season.
But Anelka's goals have put Chelsea on top of Group D and the Frenchman will be looking to continue his run of form when the Blues face Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge next week.
Anelka, once known as the 'incredible sulk' during his time at Arsenal says he has learned much from his previous strike partners and they include Kanu and the legendary Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp.
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'You know when you play with big players like him or Kanu that you will learn - I have learned from a lot of people that I've played with and tried to take a little bit from all of them,' confessed Anelka.
Anelka has found no problem adjusting to Carlo Ancelotti's 'diamond' and 'Christmas tree' formations.
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The Italian coach has introduced the systems since taking over from interim coach Guus Hiddink and the players have responded quickly.
'Since we have started playing the systems, I've scored more goals and I've been playing well,' added Anelka.
'I'm not sure if too many other players like playing in this position but I enjoy it a lot.
'I think of it as being like a striker but also in the middle of the midfield and attack.
'I am a striker but not at the top of the team and I'm still in the centre of the pitch - a bit like the position Dennis Bergkamp used to play.
'He used to play for Arsenal like that when I was there, not like a striker, but not a number 10 or a midfield player either.
'You play between the number 10 position and the centre-forward position, that's nine-and-a-half.
'"In the position I play you need to know before you get the ball where your team-mates are and try to be clever because in modern football doing something clever is advantageous.
'You have to be very clever now. It is not enough just to be a very good footballer or very athletic, because if you do not have the intelligence to make the right decisions on the pitch, I don't think you will make it at the highest level.'