Ancelotti remains optimistic after Torres draws another blank

Ancelotti remains optimistic after Torres draws another blank

Carlo Ancelotti remains confident for Chelsea’s campaign despite pulling off his record £50million striker Fernando Torres who fired blanks in the goalless draw against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Monday night.

The result leaves Chelsea in fifth place, two points behind Tottenham Hotspur who now occupy the final UEFA Champions League qualifying position and while his team continues to lose ground to league rivals, Ancelotti refuses to be downbeat: "I'm an optimist and there's good reason to have confidence,” he said after Monday’s draw.

The Italian tactician raised eyebrows when leaving Didier Drogba on the bench in favour of Fernando Torres: "I don't know if Didier was happy, but every player knows every game is important. It doesn't matter, we wanted to rotate to maintain his condition and to give everyone great motivation. Maybe in the next game we will use both," he insisted to a quizzical post-match congregation.

Torres failed to open his Chelsea account despite chances each side of half-time and he was eventually replaced by Drogba after 71 minutes. But, Ancelotti was satisfied with his January purchase: "Fernando played well. He had some opportunities in the first half and I took him out just to use Didier fresh and with power. That's the only reason I changed him. His performance was better than that against Liverpool,” he added.

The Spanish international striker certainly looked more dangerous than on his debut but was guilty of wasting some excellent creative work when failing to convert his four chances including one gilt-edged opportunity seconds before half-time.

David Luiz made his first start since signing from Benfica for £21million in the January transfer window and although he was guilty of giving away an injury-time penalty for his challenge on Clint Dempsey the 23-year-old defender put in an impressive performance on his full match debut.

Chelsea keeper Petr Cech had been a bystander for most of the evening until saving Dempsey’s spot kick to secure a point and Luiz had provided effective protection in the heart of defence. The Brazilian showed his pedigree with some quality distribution and was unlucky not to score when heading over the bar in the second half.

The new signings have given Ancelotti reason for hope but the Premier League title now looks beyond reach with 12 points to make up on leaders Manchester United with 12 games to play. However, Chelsea can still acquire some valuable silverware this term, with a generous draw against Copenhagen in the last sixteen of the UEFA Champions League and a fourth-round FA Cup replay against Everton to be played at Stamford Bridge next week.


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