The Bottom Corner: How Can Chelsea Counter the African Cup of Nations?

Salaar Shamsi@SalaarizationSenior Writer IDecember 31, 2009

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 02:  Didier Drogba of Chelsea celebrates with team mate John Obi Mikel  (R) after scoring his team's first goal during the Carling Cup Quarter Final match between Blackburn Rovers and Chelsea at Ewood Park on December 2, 2009 in Blackburn, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti is confident Chelsea can cope without the services of Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Jon Obi Mikel, who will be away at the African Cup of Nations.

Drogba and Kalou will be leading the line for the Ivory Coast in the tournament, which runs from the 10th to the 31st of January.

The absence of Drogba and Kalou means Chelsea's attacking resources will depleted especially since Nicolas Anelka is already on the casualty list, the Frenchman is doubtful for Sunday's FA Cup clash against Watford and next Saturday's trip to Hull.

Ancelotti insists he doesn't need to buy any players when the transfer window reopens New Years' Day.

"We are not worried because we have young players and we want to use those for January."

In a rather questionable move, Ancelotti has also decided to allow Argentine striker, Franco Di Santo to extend his loan stint with Blackburn Rovers until the end of the season.

In the absence of Anelka, Drogba, and Kalou. Chelsea's only other strikers are Daniel Sturridge and Fabio Borini.

Fortunately for the Blues, their fixtures aren't as tough as their title rivals would have hoped for them to be.

Chelsea will be travelling to Hull and Burnley and facing the likes of Sunderland and Birmingham at Stamford Bridge until their African stars return.

The Blues struggled in their 2-1 win over Fulham, which suggests Ancelotti's men might miss Drogba, especially in their away games.

Both of Chelsea's title rivals, Manchester United and Arsenal have failed to take all three points from Turf Moor.

How will Chelsea lineup without Drogba?

Well, Ancelotti could continue with the infamous diamond formation if he starts with the likes of Borini and Sturridge upfront.

He could also have somebody like Joe Cole or Florent Malouda deputise as a striker atleast until Anelka returns.

He could also have Sturridge leading the line ahead of a five man midfield but Obi Mikel's absence means Chelsea need somebody to fill in as a defensive midfielder.

Micheal Essien is injured but even if he was fit, he would have also gone to the African Cup of Nations to play for Ghana.

Micheal Ballack and Juliano Belletti have both played in that role at some point this season and could be asked to fill in.

Ancelotti might be taking a massive risk by not strengthening his team in Drogba's absence considering Chelsea's recent performances have been far from convincing.

The Blues have a two point lead over Manchester United going into the new year which will comfort their supporters.

However, they can't afford to slip up with United and Arsenal hot on their heels, but if they do, it will only add spice to this year's title race.

Could the African Cup of Nations derail Chelsea's title chase?


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