Chelsea seek title bid revival at Wolves

Ancelotti (L) talks to assistant Paul Clement during the match against Aston Villa on January 2, 2011. AFP

LONDON, Jan 4, 2011 (AFP) - Carlo Ancelotti knows his Chelsea side have little margin for error if they are to force their way back into the Premier League title race after dropping valuable home points against Aston Villa.

An added time equaliser by Aston Villa in a 3-3 draw on Sunday ended Chelsea's hopes of recording back to back victories, increasing the pressure on the trip to face a Wolves side in desperate trouble at the foot of the table.

Lying in fifth place, six points adrift of leaders Manchester United and having played a game more, nothing less than victory at Molineux on Wednesday will do if Chelsea are to justify Ancelotti's claim they remain in contention to retain the championship.

Speaking after the Villa game, Ancelotti pinpointed the visit of United to Stamford Bridge on March 1 as the game that will make or break the Blues' title ambitions.

But their fate will sealed long before then unless they can rediscover the defensive strengths that were such a feature of their league and FA Cup double-winning campaign last term.

The return of Branislav Ivanovic after a one-match ban will strengthen the backline with teenager Jeffrey Bruma standing down after making his full league debut against Villa.

Bruma, 19, was given an uncomfortable afternoon by Emile Heskey, who out-jumped the youngster for Villa's second goal.

Chelsea's marking, meanwhile, was non-existent when Ciaran Clark stole in to make it 3-3 moments after John Terry thought he had sealed the points and Bruma admitted the Blues had to improve.

"Everyone knows Premier League games are always fast, quick, strong, so if we don't play our game then they will play their game and you will see that they will dominate us," he said. "It can happen.

"At the end, we were dominating them again and then you saw that we scored a goal. Afterwards, I think we should've kept the ball and been strong in the marking because the guy from Villa had a free header."

Chelsea's defensive problems will be eased when Alex returns after knee surgery, although he is not expected back before the end of January.

The Brazilian is joined by Yuri Zhirkov and Yossi Benayoun on the sidelines but Blues' manager Ancelotti can otherwise select from a fully fit squad with midfielder Frank Lampard getting stronger with every game following his recent three-month layoff.

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy remained defiant despite suffering the hammer blow of defeat at relegation rivals West Ham on New Year’s Day, a loss that sent the Black Country club spinning back to the bottom of the Premier League.

But McCarthy has retained confidence in a relegation-haunted squad, having seen Wolves defeat title chasing Manchester City at Molineux already this season and scare Chelsea at Stamford Bridge earlier in the campaign.

"We're still only two points from safety and that's why I'm not full of doom and gloom thinking 'we're going down'," McCarthy said.

"There are plenty of games left and, if we play like we have and create the chances we have, we'll get results.

"Nobody got relegated at the weekend. I just don't want to be bottom in May.

"We've won three of our last six matches so we'll give it a go on Wednesday against Chelsea, no question.

"I would never doubt we've got what it takes to get up the table."

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