Premier League - Ancelotti plays down Drogba drop

Tue, 15 Feb 04:47:00 2011

Carlo Ancelotti insisted Chelsea remain on course to finish in the Premier League top four while defending his decision to drop Didier Drogba in Monday night's goalless West London derby.

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The Blues failed to secure the win needed to lift them back into the Champions League places as new signing Fernando Torres endured another game to forget for the faltering champions.

It would have been even worse for Ancelotti's men but for a stoppage-time penalty save by Petr Cech from Fulham's Clint Dempsey.

But the Chelsea boss was happy with his side's performance and that of £50million striker Torres.

"The most important thing is to finish in the top four," said Ancelotti. "I think we will be able to do this if we play like we did tonight. I'm an optimist and there's good reason to have confidence.

Match Highlights: Fulham 0-0 Chelsea

Explaining his decision to axe Drogba, Ancelotti said: "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."

Fulham boss Mark Hughes claimed Clint Dempsey's missed penalty should have been retaken after Petr Cech earned Chelsea a goalless draw.

Dempsey had a chance to score the only goal of the game from the spot right at the death but Cech kept out the USA midfielder's strike.

But Hughes suggested referee Mike Dean realised Didier Drogba was encroaching when Dempsey stepped up.

"Drogba was encroaching in the box," he said. "Mike Dean saw it: he was alongside Clint as he kicked it. Mike Dean saw that, so it should have been retaken."

Cech's save denied Fulham a sixth straight home win and only their second derby victory over Chelsea in 29 attempts.

Hughes added: "Given the circumstances at the end, it's disappointment. We came up against a strong Chelsea side who posed questions of us in the second half, and we had to be strong and resilient. But it was a real opportunity to beat a very good side at the end."

PA Sport

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