Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Ancelotti should put Torres on bench and Drogba centre stage

Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba

A few months ago Chelsea wolud have settled for this — knowing that a victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford would take them to the top of the Premier League table with just two matches remaining.

Agreed, hosting Newcastle and meeting Everton at Goodison Park appears tougher than United’s final games which are at Blackburn and at home to Blackpool, but for a change let’s do what managers demand and take one fixture at a time.

When Chelsea go toe-to-toe with United on Sunday, we are in for a rip-roaring encounter.

Sky won’t need to hype this one.

The sides have met three times already this season with United coming out on top twice in the Champions League quarter-final tie and Chelsea victors in a memorable Premier League clash, which left Sir Alex Ferguson fuming with referee Martin Atkinson, so much so that the Scot ended up landing a touchline ban from the FA for his post-match comments.

Fergie couldn’t resist getting an early dig in after his side’s 1-0 loss at Arsenal on Sunday, suggesting well in advance of the title showdown that all referees were against United.

He really is a piece of work — doing everything he can to put pressure on the officials.

This after the dismal display at the Emirates from his own players which put pressure on United themselves.

Even a point against Arsenal would have virtually sealed title number 19, but unlike past outstanding Fergie teams, this bunch have allowed Chelsea back in it.

The Blues, who have been awesome and awful in almost equal measure throughout the campaign, know only a victory on Sunday will do. That challenge suits them.

Captain John Terry will be pumping his pals up all week, leaving Carlo Ancelotti to ponder his team selection.

He played Fernando Torres alongside Didier Drogba from the start in the fortunate victory over Spurs on Saturday in Chelsea’s revered 4-3-3 formation.

Neither delivered because Torres, despite at last opening his account for Chelsea last month, continues to look like a Conference player performing in the Premier League.

And as Torres struggled, Drogba sulked because he was on the right of the three- pronged attack rather than in the middle.

Surely Carlo must know by now that Drogba needs to be the centre of attention — in every sense. He craves it and, more often than not, delivers.

Coming on as substitute Drogba showed against United in the Champions League at Old Trafford that he can hurt the Red Devils rearguard.

On that same night a tortured Torres didn’t look as if he could harm a fly, let alone Nemanja Vidic.

Ancelotti has to revert to the tried and trusted at Chelsea to beat United and that means dropping the £50 million man to the bench and playing Drogba where he wants.

That’s the way to keep, what has become, a compelling title race alive.

Then it could come down to goal difference and a shoot-out in the final fortnight.

That’s the sort of finish we all want.

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