Carlo Ancelotti said he was thrilled by Chelsea’s response to their early-season setbacks after a 4-0 win over Bolton Wanderers left them two points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
The Blues lost back to back away league games against Wigan and Aston Villa to raise doubts about whether they were genuine challengers for the title.
But they have responded to the 2-1 loss at Villa with four straight wins, including 17 goals and four clean sheets.
Ancelotti’s team now have a trip to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League ahead of a crucial game against Premier League champions Manchester United.
And although Ancelotti insisted he was not looking beyond the game in Spain, he was pleased with the way the Londoners have bounced back in the league.
“It was our aim to stay top and we maintained the two points lead before this game and now we have to think about Atletico Madrid and prepare for a fantastic match against Manchester United,” said Ancelotti after Chelsea made it eight goals in a matter of days against Bolton after a 4-0 midweek League Cup win.
“Usually people think about the game against Manchester United but we have another important game during the week and we want to prepare well,” the Italian manager explained.
“We have time to prepare for Manchester United but it’s very easy to prepare for this game.
“It’s a very important match but we have to maintain our concentration on the Champions League group at this moment.”
Ancelotti added: “I think that we accepted the criticism before because we had self criticism and that’s normal when you don’t do well.”
Frank Lampard’s penalty, after Jlloyd Samuel was sent-off for tripping Didier Drogba, sent Chelsea on their way here at the Reebok Stadium.
Second-half goals from Deco, Zat Knight’s own goal and Drogba gave Saturday’s scoreline a comfortable feel.
Joe Cole, much praised since returning from a knee injury, was left on the bench with Deco given the chance to impress against Bolton.
And Ancelotti said the veteran Portuguese was a vital player for the west London club.
“He is doing what he knows,” Ancelotti explained. “It is nothing special, he can do this and is doing it for the team and this is important.
“He’s an unselfish player. Usually offensive players with quality are a little bit selfish but I’ve found an unselfish offensive midfielder.
“We did a good performance and it was a difficult first-half because Bolton played a very strong match in the first-half, with lots of pressure on our midfielders.
“We maintained good concentration, good intensity and we won a very important match.”
Despite being beaten by the same margin in midweek, Bolton manager Gary Megson was far happier with his team after this match.
His formation mirrored Chelsea’s ‘diamond’ set-up and he was pleased with the way his side competed.
“I know we’ve been beaten 4-0 but I thought we were terrific. The diamond, we struggled with on Wednesday we didn’t struggle with today (Saturday),” Megson said.
“Whereas they had Lampard in it, we had Chris Basham. Whereas they had Michael Ballack, we had Tamir Cohen.
“They’ve spent all that money and quality on that diamond. We tried to rev our lads up to compete man for man with all of those.”
Megson, however, may find himself in trouble with the Football Association after criticising referee Peter Walton for awarding the penalty that led to the opening goal.
He added: “It is a soft penalty. I thought it was engineered well. If Drogba keeps it on his right hand side Jlloyd would not get sent-off trying to get to it. He brings it to his left hand side and with Peter Walton and penalties and Bolton there is only one thing that can happen.”
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