Chelsea will not miss Didier Drogba – Carlo Ancelotti
Drogba scored his 19th goal of the season against Fulham
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti insists his side can cope without top scorer Didier Drogba in the next few weeks.
The striker is on African Cup of Nations duty with fellow Ivory Coast star Salomon Kalou, Ghana’s Michael Essien and Nigeria’s Jon Mikel Obi.
Drogba scored in the 2-1 victory over Fulham, only Chelsea’s second win in eight games, but Ancelotti is unfazed.
“Didier has scored 19 goals but without him, this year, we’ve done very well,” said the Italian.
“We won three games in the Champions League without him. We can do the same in the Premier League.”
Drogba and Kalou were given special dispensation to delay their flights to Angola, the country hosting the Cup of Nations, which begins on 10 January, to play against Fulham on Monday.
Fifa regulations state the duo should have been released for international duty on 27 December but, along with midfielder Mikel, were allowed to leave two days past the deadline.
And Drogba underlined his importance to Chelsea’s cause when he notched his 14th Premier League goal of the season with a powerful header from Branislav Ivanovic’s cross against Fulham at Stamford Bridge.
If Ivory Coast reach the Cup of Nations final on 31 January, Chelsea will be without Drogba and Kalou for four Premier League matches and an FA Cup third round tie against Watford.
However, Ancelotti is confident he has enough depth in his squad to cover the absence of his premier striker.
“In some matches we can change the system,” added Ancelotti, who is also without striker Nicolas Anelka because of a muscle injury.
“We’ve played the diamond in every match but we can use our wingers in some matches. Florent Malouda or Daniel Sturridge can play. It depends on the match.”
It was not a good December for us but that month is finished and now we look forward to January
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti
And despite their December blip, Ancelotti believes his team can emerge stronger after their run of poor form.
“With this performance we finished a difficult period for the team,” stated Ancelotti.
“This could be an important victory in the season because I’m very happy with the reaction of the team during a bad spell.
“It was not a good December for us but that month is finished and now we look forward to January.
“We can do better and maintain our position at the top of the table.”