LONDON (AFP) - Carlo Ancelotti insists Chelsea's 2-0 win over Arsenal has not reduced the fight for the Premier League title to a two-horse race between the Blues and Manchester United.
Ancelotti's side provided beleaguered captain John Terry with a much-needed boost at the end of a troubled week by over-powering the Gunners at Stamford Bridge to return to the top of the Premier League.
Terry, who threw his shirt to Chelsea supporters at full-time before hugging Ancelotti, was clearly relieved to concentrate on playing after his alleged affair with the ex-girlfriend of England team-mate Wayne Bridge led to him being stripped of the international captaincy last week.
He produced a commanding performance which frustrated Arsenal's determined efforts to get back in the match after two goals from Didier Drogba - the first set up by Terry - rocked the Gunners.
Terry and Drogba's heroics ensured Chelsea moved two points clear of Manchester United at the top, while Arsenal are languishing nine points behind the leaders.
But Arsene Wenger's side have already clawed back an 11-point deficit this season after being thrashed by Chelsea in November and Ancelotti knows the north Londoners can't be completely discounted yet.
"For Arsenal it is very difficult to return to the top of the table but they have a possibility because they have a good team. It depends on the performances of United and Chelsea," Ancelotti said.
"I can't say if it is a two horse race. It is not time to say it is just United and Chelsea yet."
Terry's defiant display was exactly what Ancelotti had hoped for when he launched a vigourous defence of his captain after the Vanessa Perroncel scandal first broke.
The Italian knows Terry has the enviable ability to block out all distractions to focus on the Chelsea cause and he was always confident the centre-back would play at his best on Sunday.
Some managers would have been tempted to such the controversy to build up a siege mentality in the dressing room, but Ancelotti never contemplated asking his team to go out and win the match for their captain.
"We had a good motivation because we want to win the Premier League and the other trophies. That was the only motivation we needed, not other things," he added.
"We did some fantastic defensive work. We tried to score more but we worked together for 90 minutes. Sometimes you have to defend.
"Arsenal produced some fantastic attacking play so it was not easy. Maybe they had more possession than us but this is not football. Football is attack, defence and results also. We deserved to win."
From the moment Terry glanced on Florent Malouda's eighth minute corner for Drogba to volley home at the far post, there was a sense of inevitability about the result.
Arsenal had plenty of possession but the absence of the cutting edge that a player like Drogba provides was all too clear, especially when the Ivory Coast forward brushed past Gael Clichy in the 23rd minute to lash home his 12th goal in 12 appearances against the Gunners.
Successive defeats to United and Chelsea have left Arsenal clinging to only the faintest hope of winning the league for the first time since 2004.
Even Wenger concedes Arsenal face a major struggle to overhaul Chelsea now and the visit of in-form Liverpool to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday couldn't have come at a worse time.
"I feel we are not in the best position but we will not give up," Wenger said. "We were a bit unfortunate to play Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool on the trot.
"The pyschological implications for each game are big and that is a bit of a disadvantage.
"It is vital (to beat Liverpool) but it was vital against Chelsea and we still lost."
|12||J. Obi Mikel|
|11||D. Drogba||8' 23'|
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