Ancelotti to return for Arsenal clash

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The Independent Football

Chelsea have confirmed that Carlo Ancelotti will be back on the touchline for their Barclays Premier League clash against Arsenal on Sunday following the death of his father.

The club's assistant boss Ray Wilkins admitted the players were down following the death of Ancelotti's father but says the squad will be lifted by his return to the team hotel on Saturday night.

Ancelotti's dad, Giuseppe, 87, died in midweek after a long illness with his son at his side and Wilkins revealed that the sad news had affected the players.

"It is obviously extremely unpleasant," said Wilkins.

"The players were down yesterday and they were saddened by the news. So yesterday's session was not as bright as it should have been.

"But Carlo is back on Saturday. He will join us in the hotel on Saturday night and will be on the touchline on Sunday."

Wilkins admitted that Chelsea count themselves extremely fortunate to have a three-point lead at the top of the table.

Arsenal's defeat at home to West Brom and Manchester United's draw at Bolton last weekend helped Chelsea to remain top even though they lost 1-0 at Manchester City.

But victory for both Arsenal and Chelsea in the Champions League in midweek has lifted both teams ahead of the game.

"This game comes on the back of a victory for both sides in Europe," said Wilkins.

"We enjoy these games and the players enjoy them immensely.

"It was an incredible weekend and we felt we were quite fortunate to be three points in front at the end of it. But you have to give credit to teams like West Brom and Bolton. These teams fight for everything."

Chelsea's Didier Drogba will be hoping his success against Arsenal continues on Sunday. The Ivory Coast striker has scored 12 goals in 10 starts against the Gunners.

Wilkins believes his success rate comes from Drogba's ability to rise to the occasion.

"He scores against everybody because he is a world-class footballer," added Wilkins.

"He always does extremely well in big games. I think he is a player that rises to the occasion and with spotlight on us he will do that on Sunday."

Wilkins also expressed surprise that Arsenal, despite their reputation for free-flowing exciting football, have not won a trophy since 2005.

"Yes, I am surprised," admitted Wilkins.

"With the quality of football they play it is quite exceptional, their passing and moving is probably the best in the Premier League.

"But we are very pleased with the style of football we play. We use all the attributes we have as a group of players. We play a brand of football that has been quite exceptional.

"We had two defeats which was unusual and so we were hurting. It was important that we got back to winning and playing well. We didn't play well against Manchester City."

England midfielder Frank Lampard remains sidelined with a slight groin problem that he has sustained since he underwent hernia surgery.

But Wilkins insisted the club were not looking to rush Lampard back before he is fully recovered.

"He has recovered from the hernia but now he has a slight groin strain," added Wilkins.

"It has given him a little problem neither he nor we anticipated. He joined us for part of a training session and didn't feel comfortable and it is important we get it right for Frank and for us. It's important he is fully ready to play at the top-level again."

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