Blues not same without Drogba, says Anelka

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The Independent Football

Nicolas Anelka admits Chelsea miss Didier Drogba when the Ivory Coast striker is out of the side.

Drogba was today undergoing further assessment on the calf injury that forced him out of Chelsea's 3-0 victory over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The talismanic forward made one and scored his fifth of the season before being substituted seven minutes from time.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti is hoping Drogba's injury is nothing more than cramp and insists the team can function without him.

Anelka stepped in for the suspended Drogba in last week's Champions League victory over Porto and is happy to play the lone attacking role if the 31-year-old is sidelined for any length of time.

"We miss him when he's not around," said the Frenchman. "We miss his physical impact and things are definitely different without him.

"I usually play behind him, in midfield almost. But against Porto I was up front on my own, not that that's anything new for me as I must have played about 15 games like that last season."

Anelka played his part in helping Chelsea create a new club record of 11 straight wins with victory over Spurs.

It left the Blues on top of the Barclays Premier League - three points in front of Manchester United.

Anelka believes he is playing with more freedom in Ancelotti's new diamond system and credits the Italian's laid-back style and rotational policy as being among the reasons for their fabulous start to the new season..

"I am playing more freely now," added Anelka. "I played with that system at Fenerbahce and it allows me to ask for the ball at my feet and to get up front with Didier at the same time.

"That's the position I prefer playing in because I can get more involved in the game. The more I get on the ball, the better I feel and the more I can express.

"Ancelotti rotates the squad, which is new at Chelsea. Everyone gets to play a part and everyone is happy, even if they just get to play 20 minutes.

"We really like him as a coach and as a person too. You can feel that out on the pitch and you really want to work hard for him. He's laid back, he talks a lot and he knows exactly what he's doing.

"It makes things easier when you've got a coach like that, someone who's calm and who shows you that he's in control.

"He won the league and the Champions League with Milan. He's been there and done it."

Germany captain Michael Ballack believes Ancelotti's tactical approach should be given much of the credit for their early success.

Ballack scored Chelsea's second before going off with a slight knock and believes the change to their system has been the key so far.

"Under him (Ancelotti) we changed the system - which gives us more possession and makes the game feel a little bit more comfortable even if we don't create one chance after another because we know the situation will come.

"That's what he always tells us - you have to wait for your chance and you can see it now when they come, we are deadly. He gives the team a lot of confidence.

"We've won every game and we want to keep going like this. The team is confident and settled.

"We are very happy with the result against Tottenham and with the way we played.

"It was not an easy game, especially in the first half. Three-nil sounds a lot because I think it was a lot tighter than the result showed."

Spurs, meanwhile, have been given a boost following the loss of defenders Ledley King and Sebastien Bassong during their defeat at Chelsea.

Bassong left the field with concussion after a fall and King was forced out of the game with a hamstring problem.

The injuries left boss Harry Redknapp facing a defensive crisis with Michael Dawson and Jonathan Woodgate still unfit.

A statement from Spurs suggested their problems were easing, although King was to undergo a scan on his hamstring.

A club spokesperson said: "Sebastien Bassong was back at Spurs Lodge for further assessment after being given the all-clear by a head and neck consultant at a hospital on Sunday evening.

"Ledley King will undergo a scan on his right hamstring after also being forced off with injury early on in the second half."

Redknapp has already confirmed that Portsmouth loanee Jamie O'Hara will return to Tottenham in January.

"We will definitely get Jamie back as soon as we can," Redknapp said.

"I like Jamie as a player and I didn't want him to go but Portsmouth insisted on it as part of the deal to sell Kevin-Prince Boateng to them so we had no choice."