LONDON, April 8, 2011 (AFP) - Carlo Ancelotti faces the daunting task of lifting his Chelsea players for the visit of Wigan Athletic following the Champions League disappointment against Manchester United.
AFP - Chelsea's striker Didier Drogba (Foreground) shows his disappointment as his team play against Manchester United during their UEFA Champions League match at Stamford Bridge on April 6, 2011
Ancelotti’s side face the Premier League's bottom club still smarting from the 1-0 quarter-final first leg home defeat at the hands of United when they were controversially denied an added time penalty.
With the decisive second leg scheduled to take place at Old Trafford three days after the Wigan clash, the arrival of Roberto Martinez's side in west London will inevitably be overshadowed by the much anticipated European return.
However, Blues manager Ancelotti is adamant his players must switch their attention back to domestic matters if they are to avoid compounding the failure of midweek.
Chelsea currently lie fourth in the Premier League, eleven points adrift of leaders United but they have a game in hand and must also visit Old Trafford in the league on May 8.
Europe therefore remains their best hope of silverware even though they must overturn a single goal deficit but Ancelotti and his players are not yet ready to concede the league title they won last season.
"Our focus is to play against Wigan and to win, to take confidence and three points in the table, then we don't have a problem physically," said the manager. "We'll have time to focus for the game at Old Trafford."
John Terry, the Blues captain, echoed Ancelotti’s thoughts. "Manchester United know we will never give up on the league and we will keep going until the end," he said.
"We've got a game in hand, we still have to play them away and, with two wins in those fixtures, things will look a lot closer.
"We were disappointed with the draw at Stoke (last Saturday) because we had been in good form going into the international break. It's important we bounce back as quickly as possible."
Ancelotti is likely to rotate his squad in a bid to keep key players fresh for the United match and defender David Luiz will return at centre back having been cup-tied in midweek.
More intriguing will be how the manager handles his misfiring strikers and, having paired Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres without success in the Champions League, could start with Nicolas Anleka and Salomon Kalou up front.
Wigan suffered a humiliating 8-0 defeat when they visited Stamford Bridge in the penultimate game of last season and their current standing suggests they have little chance of getting anything from this game.
But manager Martinez is keen to turn that to his side’s advantage as they attempt to build on last week's draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
"It's something we can't control," said Martinez. "From the outside we've always been the small club who everyone believes will go down.
"It's great motivation for us and we continue to concentrate on what we can do on the pitch to prove people wrong over the final seven games.
"Against Tottenham we saw a fantastic display, particularly from a defensive point-of-view stopping them play their game and then creating the better chances going forward.
"That will give the players a lot of belief and if we can continue enjoying our football, playing to those standards I'm sure we'll upset the odds.
"In many ways it's a shame the season doesn't start now because the team are starting to see the rewards from all their hard work, have a great understanding on the pitch and the level of the performances have improved because of that.
"Now it's vital we get the points we need from this season because this squad is ready to achieve great things in the future."