COBHAM, England - Coach Carlo Ancelotti believes he has found the key to Chelsea's ragged recent performances and his players will put the problem right against Liverpool on Sunday.
Speaking after a training session on Friday watched by exacting Russian owner Roman Abramovich, Ancelotti said that despite losing at Wigan last Sunday and stumbling to a 1-0 Champions League win at unfancied Apoel in Cyprus, the team had managed to keep a strong spirit.
"When you don't play well, you do an analysis. We've done that and we have resolved problem," the Italian said confidently without letting on what the problem was. "The atmosphere is good in the dressing room."
Chelsea had a storming start to the season but dropped to second in the Premier League, behind Manchester United on goal difference, after their lacklustre 3-1 Wigan defeat. Their two games against third-placed Liverpool will be pivotal to Ancelotti's first season in London.
"After all, we won in Cyprus. We didn't play well but when it's not possible to play well it's important to win the game," said Ancelotti.
Relaxed and smiling before renewing a rivalry with Liverpool that involved two Champions League finals between the English side and his former club AC Milan, Ancelotti added: "It's a test, an important test because they have very good players but we are happy to meet Liverpool at this point in the season.
"If we play better than we did on Wednesday we can win this game.and I think we will play better," he said.
Ancelotti admires Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez's organisational skills, particularly at the back, joking that the Spanish coach had obviously watched a lot of Italian games. Honours are even with Liverpool winning the Champions League final in 2005 after coming back from 3-0 down and AC Milan triumphant two year's later.
Chelsea lost both league games against Liverpool last season during a slump under the short-lived coaching regime of Luis Felipe Scolari and finished behind them in third place.
Their last fixtures produced a 12-goal bonanza over two legs in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with Chelsea coming out on top last April.
With two of the best strikers in the world in Liverpool's Fermando Torres and Chelsea's Didier Drogba going head to head, Ancelotti said he was curious to see how they played against each other. "But the strikers depend on how the whole team plays for them," he added.
The London side will be without defender Alex (groin) and midfielder John Obi Mikel (ankle) as well as Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech, suspended after being shown a red card against Wigan. Portuguese keeper Hilario takes his place.
Amcelotti will have the midfield options of playmakers Deco and Joe Cole both returning from long injury layoffs.
Ancelotti laughed off suggestions Abramovich was worried by the last week's form. "He's happy we are at the top of the championship and top of our group in the Champions League," Ancelotti said. "What we have to do is play with intelligence, read the game and control it."comments