Champions League to spur ’em on: Carlo Ancelotti
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has refused to rule out Tottenham — or even Arsenal — finishing fourth in the Barclays Premier League this season.
Ancelotti warned his players not to take Spurs lightly in today's must-win game, despite their appalling record at Stamford Bridge and their recent run of one victory in 10 games.
The last two months have seen Harry Redknapp's men fall four points behind Manchester City in the race for the country's final Champions League spot with just five matches remaining.
Three of those are away at Chelsea — where they have never won in the Premier League era — Liverpool and City, meaning they could struggle even to secure a Europa League spot if their poor form continues.
But Ancelotti insisted: “They are involved in the fight for fourth place. They will try to do everything against us because now they have a gap to close to Man City.”
Chelsea also have a gap to close to leaders Manchester United, who they have slowly reeled in over the past two months to give themselves a glimmer of hope of retaining the title.
Beating Tottenham would move them to within three points of their rivals, who travel to Arsenal tomorrow.
Chelsea then need a favour from the Gunners, whose own title hopes were all but ended by defeat at Bolton last weekend.
Whether Arsene Wenger's men can lift themselves enough to de
rail United's title bid remains to be seen but Ancelotti believes they have plenty to play for.
Arsenal are only five points clear of City having played a game more and finishing in the top three would ensure they will not have to play a Champions League qualifier next season.
Ancelotti said: “I think Arsenal will do their best to win.
“They have less chance to fight for the title. But I think Man City behind them is closer.
“If you arrive third, you don't have to play the preliminary of the Champions League.”
Ancelotti, whose side travel to Old Trafford a week tomorrow for what could be a make-or-break match, added: “We have to do our job and our job is to win against
Tottenham. It will not be easy because Tottenham is a very good team, very strong.
“But I think that we want to keep open the Premier League until the last minute. Obviously, we have to beat Man United, we have to beat Tottenham.
“We want to fight until the last minute of this Premier League.”
Spurs have been feted for their adventurous approach under Redknapp, especially the fearlessness they showed in their maiden Champions League season.
Ancelotti said: “Usually, Tottenham play attacking football.
“We want to do this. Maybe it will be a fantastic game to watch.”
Chelsea were this week linked with a £40million summer move for Tottenham talisman Gareth Bale, but Ancelotti warned the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year was just one threat to his side.
He said: “They can attack with Bale, they can attack and counter-attack with (Aaron) Lennon, they can use the ability in the air of (Peter) Crouch, they have (Rafael) Van der Vaart, who is a very good player that can play in the hole.
“So they have a lot of skills up front. We have to be able to control this and to use our play to win the game.
“It will be important to have some control of the game.”
The visitors also have a manager admired by Ancelotti, who may not get many more chances to pit his wits against the Spurs boss if he loses his own job this summer or if Redknapp gets the England job next year.
Ancelotti said: “He doesn't have a problem to train the England team.
“I know that now the England team has a manager and he is a good manager.”