Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti admitted today that he’s revelling in the pressure of Chelsea’s late push for the Premier League title, referring to tomorrow’s game away to Stoke as “the first of nine finals”.
The Italian has seen his side force their way back into contention with the Blues now lying only nine points behind league leaders Manchester United with a game in hand.
With United travelling to Upton Park for what could be a tricky game against a West Ham side that beat them 4-0 in the Carling Cup back in November, the onus is on Chelsea to produce the goods against Tony Pulis’s physical Stoke side.
“In my opinion, I need to have pressure to focus, to stay concentrated on my job. I need to have pressure on my shoulders. It doesn’t mean that I’m not able to manage this pressure,” said Ancelotti.
“I want to have pressure. When I’m too relaxed it’s not good.”
Ancelotti could be excused for having one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League tie where Chelsea will welcome Alex Ferguson’s United but he insists that his team are focused on tomorrow’s game.
“We have to put out the best team against Stoke, after that we can think about Manchester United. The most important thing is to win Saturday’s game,” he said.
The former Milan and Juventus manager also expressed his enthusiasm for the end of the season, or what his opposite number in the title race would refer to as ‘squeaky bum time’.
“It’s a very exciting end to the season because a lot of teams are involved: Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and at the bottom it’s going to be an exciting fight too,” he added.
Elsewhere in the title race, Arsenal, who also have a game in hand over United, host Blackburn Rovers at the Emirates while Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham Hotspur have the chance to close the gap on Manchester City to one point if they beat bottom of the league Wigan.