Chelsea vs Tottenham preview - Ancelotti takes nothing for granted

I have a say

Posted Saturday, April 30, 2011 by PA

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 Saturday'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 be 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 on Sunday.

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 derail 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 on Sunday 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."

Redknapp maintains that Tottenham are still firmly in the race for fourth and predicts his side's tussle with Manchester City will go down to the wire.

"We need to go to Stamford Bridge and win. It will be a tough game but we have to try and pick up three points to stay in that race," Redknapp said.

"Man City are in pole position now but it's all to play for. We have to be positive and win as many as we can. It can still be done. "

"The idea is to be in striking distance when we go to Man City (on May 10).

"We have some tough games coming up but I still think it will go down to the wire."

The Spurs boss has never hidden his dislike of the Europa League and admits the possibility of competing among Europe's second tier fills him with dread.

"Our first year in the Champions League has been hard. It has taken its toll but the Europa League takes a bigger toll," Redknapp said.

"Playing on Thursday and Sunday is not ideal but if that's what we end up with that's what we end up with."

Questions will be asked about whether the club will be able to hold on to their stars if they fail to make the top four.

Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart have all been linked with moves, but Redknapp insists they will not be sold if Spurs finish fifth.

"They are not for sale. If you do you sell them, you may as well accept you're a mid-table team," Redknapp said.

"We are trying to be a Champions League team and we will not do that by selling our best players."

Redknapp also reiterated his belief that Spurs need to sign one or two world-class players regardless of where they finish in the league.

He also said that the club will look to offload players like Robbie Keane, Jamie O'Hara, Giovani dos Santos and David Bentley in order to trim the squad next year.

"If you want to be in the Champions League you have to keep improving. I know that and the chairman does," Redknapp said.

"We have lots of players out on loan, so we need to trim the squad a bit, with one or two of those moving on, and bring in one or two top players in."

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