I have proved myself as a playmaker, says Anelka

Striker feels he has filled creative role behind Drogba with distinction this season
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The Independent Football

Nicolas Anelka will return to action against Hull City this weekend revelling in the footballing freedom handed to him by Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti. Anelka has not played because of a hamstring injury since he scored his eighth goal of the season in Chelsea's 2-1 victory over Portsmouth last month .

But Ancelotti has confirmed the striker will return for the game with relegation-battling Hull and Anelka is hoping to rediscover the form he was showing before he was sidelined.

Chelsea will be depending on Anelka's form and fitness in January with 19-goal striker Didier Drogba and his Ivory Coast and club team-mate Salomon Kalou away at the African Nations Cup in Angola.

But the France international, 30, has no doubts that his transformation from an out-and-out striker into a more free, creative role behind Drogba, has been a success.

"I wanted to show everyone I could play there and I wanted, even if I'm not scoring a lot of goals, to be creative in the middle of the pitch," said Anelka.

"I knew I could do it well. I'm not going on the pitch just to score goals, I am going on there first to win and to play well and then, if I have the chance to score as well, that's even better.

"I like this position and I enjoy my football when I'm playing there. This role is maybe why I am more consistent, even if we have not always had good results during December.

"But we are playing against big teams every game and if they stay back against us, it is hard for us to score, which gives us a big challenge every time. Even so, we are still first in the League and we will try our best to stay there now.

"I wanted to play this position when I first came to Chelsea, with Didier in front and me just behind, and I always said that.

"This season the manager gave me the opportunity to do it, to be free on the pitch and I feel good. The freedom I now have on the pitch puts me in a position where I can be up front sometimes, playing the striker, then I can be behind later in the same game or a left or right-winger.

"It gives me the chance to have some versatility and that is why I do what I do. Not a lot of people knew I could do this and I don't think Carlo knew me like a midfielder before he came here.

"I think he knew me as a striker but game after game, and in training as well, he saw that I could do this position because when Didier is playing up front, I like to drop behind and he trusted me to stay in this position after he saw that."

Anelka missed out on Chelsea's 5-0 drubbing of Watford in the FA Cup third round last Sunday and the Blues now face Preston North End as they look to retain the trophy they won at Wembley last season.

While the FA Cup may not necessarily be at the top of the players' or the fans' trophy wish-list this season, Anelka insists the Cup is still an important piece of silverware for the Blues, echoing the sentiments of his manager Ancelotti.

"The FA Cup is important for us," added Anelka. "We know what we want to win first and that is the Premier League and the Champions League, but we also know that the FA Cup is a big competition.

"We won it last season and I think everybody, staff, players and fans, want to win it again."

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