Chelsea bid to maintain flying start

Carlo Ancelotti insisted last week that the opening matches of the season will prove decisive in the determining the final outcome of the Premier League title race.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 27 Aug 2010, 3:16 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:55 AM

If the Chelsea manager is correct, then Ancelotti’s side have already taken a significant step towards retaining the championship with successive 6-0 victories over West Bromwich Albion and Wigan.

Just two games into the new campaign, the Blues are the only side in the top-flight to boast a 100 percent record and with Stoke the visitors to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, there appears to be little possibility of their winning run ending this weekend.

In contrast to Chelsea’s blistering start, Stoke have yet to claim their first point of the new campaign and will travel south still smarting from the memory of the 7-0 thrashing they endured in April as Ancelotti’s men took their final strides towards clinching the title.

Chelsea’s recent record is becoming more extraordinary with every passing game, with the Blues now having scored 29 goals without reply in their last five league games, straddling the end of last season and the start of this.

It’s a run that is clearly impossible to sustain, but while more difficult tests lie ahead, there is no denying the air of confidence that has enveloped the club.

“There is no better side than Chelsea in Europe and right now the aim is to win the Champions League,” admitted Florent Malouda.

“It was a wonderful experience to win the Premier League last season and I want to keep it. The trophy is heavy but I really enjoyed it.

“When you’re at a club like this, you have to win. The atmosphere at the end of the last two seasons was a great experience for me.

“I want it every year. I want to be on top and there is no second place. I always want to be first.”

Malouda, 30, emerged as a key player last season having initially struggled to make an impact following his move from Lyon in July 2007 and the France international believes he has now proved his worth.

“When you look at the three years I have spent at Chelsea and what I did for the club, people will think I wasn’t an expensive transfer,” he added.

“I have played a lot of games in a lot of different positions and won a lot of titles. The fact I came to Chelsea improved the team.”

Malouda will be joined in the squad for the first time by Ramires, the Brazil midfielder who became Ancelotti’s most significant close-season signing when he joined from Benfica.

Ancelotti would also have liked to include Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic in his squad as deputy to Petr Cech but the Potters rejected a bid for the Bosnia international this week.

That prompted Begovic to make himself unavailable for Stoke’s midweek League Cup victory over Shrewsbury, infuriating manager Tony Pulis and adding an extra edge to Saturday’s meeting.

“We had a meeting and he was in the team,” Pulis said. “We went out to the training pitch and he was in the team.

“I told Carlo Nash he was on the bench and Thomas Sorensen he wasn’t needed. So you make a decision and then he decided he wouldn’t play.

“We won’t be pushed around or bullied into releasing a player. He is a good kid. He has been smashing ever since he joined but something has turned his head. It happens in football.

“He is not the only one. People are blowing in his ears and there are outside influences.

“It’s not all down to the kid. There are outside influences. It’s a disease that has grown and grown and grown.

“There has always been an element of skulduggery. If people say that isn’t the case they are lying.

“But it has never got to the stage where people have started to come in and said they didn’t want to play for the club.”

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