Belfast Telegraph

New hope at Chelsea as gloom starts to lift

Chelsea coach Paul Clement insists the club's players are not superhuman and that it is perfectly normal for their miserable recent run to have taken its toll.

The Blues go into tomorrow’s Barclays Premier League game against Aston Villa having finally stopped the rot that had set in during November and December.

Wednesday night's 1-0 win over Bolton was their first for seven league games, ending their worst sequence for 11 years.

And, despite the ugly manner of the victory, the three points have gone some way to restoring the confidence of Carlo Ancelotti's players, some of whom would have never previously experienced such a slump in form.

“The atmosphere is certainly better after that game,” said Clement.

“The recent run has been a challenge for everyone and confidence has been affected.

“We are normal blokes, players and coaches, we're no different.

“We still feel situations when they are low and when they are high.

“The players put a lot of effort in and did what they needed to do and that's given everyone a lift.

“Hopefully, we can look forward now but it has certainly been a difficult November and December and we don't want to go back to that.”

Failure to beat Bolton would have seen Chelsea marooned in fifth position, outside the Champions League spots.

That would have piled the pressure on Ancelotti, who admitted anything other than three points on Wednesday night would have ended their title challenge.

It would have also left them scrambling to qualify for the Champions League, unthinkable for a club whose participation in the competition has been taken for granted in recent years.

But striker Nicolas Anelka insists he would take no extra pleasure in coming back from the brink to retain the championship.

“I want to win — that's it,” he said. “It's better when things are easier, of course. But life is not always easy, so we have to stay strong and see what happens.

“It doesn't affect the way we approach matches because we have to win games and try to drop the minimum points to achieve our aims — we always want to win.”

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