Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has conceded that the London club are not in contention to win the Premier League title this season, and instead insists the Blues main priority is to finish in the top four, and retain Champions League football for next season. Chelsea are well behind pace-setters Manchester United with 13 games remaining and the Italian has stated that the deficit is too much to be clawed back
Speaking at a press conference to unveil new Brazilian defender David Luiz, Ancelotti clarified that European football next season was a more achievable goal. “Now for us it is difficult to think that we can come back and fight for the Premier League title. The most important thing is to reach fourth place in the table to maintain Chelsea in the Champions League and we have to fight with the other teams,” Ancelotti conceded.
The statement reiterates that the gap between Chelsea, Manchester United and the rest of the pack has been closed with a resurgent Arsenal impressing at home and in Europe, Manchester City’s millions powering them into title contention and Harry Redknapp’s Spurs continuing the form that saw them finish fourth last season. Chelsea still have to play United home and away this season, so it is not inconceivable that Chelsea could gain ground on the league leaders, but Ancelotti feels the gap is just too great, admitting: “The gap is very big, we have to be honest”.
After a flying start to the season in which Chelsea won their first five games and looked on course to be the team to beat, they now find themselves in a battle with neighbours Tottenham for fourth place. Ancelotti’s admission will disappoint some Chelsea followers and failure to qualify for the Champions League would be unthinkable, and would surely end the Italian’s tenure at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea travel to local rivals Fulham on Monday night, and the ex AC Milan coach will hope for three points to keep pressure on his top four competitors.