PRESTON, England (AFP) - France striker Nicolas Anelka took the plaudits after his goal inspired a 2-0 win at Preston keeping Chelsea on course to land the FA Cup for the third time in four seasons.
Anelka set the platform for the Premier League club's fourth round success at Deepdale on Saturday with his fifth goal in four games.
Young strike partner Daniel Sturridge doubled the holders' lead in the second half as Carlo Ancelotti's team saw off Darren Ferguson's Championship outfit.
But it was Anelka's performance which caught the eye of Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins and he was keen to salute the former Arsenal and Real Madrid star.
"He's playing some outstanding football at the minute," Wilkins said. "He's clearly enjoying his football and training.
"He's an outstanding player and hopefully he will carry in this rich vein of scoring form."
Wilkins insisted Chelsea's professional performance against Preston is proof that the west London club are determined to retain the FA Cup they won last May after beating Everton 2-1 in the final.
"I thought our lads were extremely professional," he added. "This is not an easy place to come and the Preston fans really got behind their team.
"But we are the holders and we want to retain it. This is not an easy place to come and the fact that Carlo picked a strong team shows how seriously we are treating the competition."
Wilkins refused to blame referee Mike Dean for disallowing a goal by substitute Florent Malouda when the tie was goalless.
Malouda found the net soon after coming on in the first half for the injured Juliano Belletti. With the scores locked at 0-0, the goal was ruled out as the referee had blown for a foul committed on Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.
"In our eyes it was the wrong decision," added Wilkins. "But I'm not going to have a go at the referee. We got a free kick out of it and didn't make the most out of it."
Lampard was substituted in the second half after suffering a calf problem, but Wilkins is hopeful he will be available for Wednesday's home game with Birmingham City.
The tie might have had a different ending had Preston midfielder Darren Carter not missed from three yards towards the end of the first half, when the score was 1-0.
Ferguson, son of Manchester United manager Sir Alex, refused to criticise Carter for his astonishing blunder, which came after Portuguese keeper Hilario had failed to hold a header by Chris Brown.
"At half time I said to him to keep getting stuck in," said Ferguson, taking charge of his first home game since replacing Alan Irvine as Preston manager earlier this month.
"I didn't want him hiding in the second half. The lad needed a bit of a lift, but that's football.
"A few minutes before half time we miss a great chance and two minutes in the second half we concede a goal.
"But I can't have any complaints about my players. We played some great football."
Ferguson revealed Celtic had made an inquiry for Republic of Ireland international defender Sean St Ledger, but said: "Celtic have no chance of getting him on what they are offering."
|S. St. Ledger|
|Coach: D. Ferguson|
|Sevilla reject director´s request to leave|
|Austria 2 Malta 1: Arnautovic and Schopf seal warm-up win|
|Republic of Ireland 1 Belarus 2: O´Neill´s side beaten in final Euros warm-up|
|Argentina not pulling out of Copa America - AFA chief|
|Halilovic left out of final Croatia squad|
|Eder included in Italy squad as Jorginho misses out|
|Luxembourg 1 Nigeria 3: Iheanacho strikes again for Super Eagles|
|Stuttgart midfielder Maxim among five cut from Romania´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Buffon: Italy not among Euro 2016 favourites|
|Lucas replaces injured Rafinha in Brazil Copa squad|
|PSG confirm Aurier will face trial after police altercation|
|Rosicky included in final Czech Republic squad for Euro 2016|
|Ireland 1-2 Belarus: O'Neill's men's Euro 2016 preparations take a blow|
|Reus snub ´unbelievably difficult´ - Howedes|
|AFA holding meeting to discuss Copa withdrawal|
|England v Portugal: Santos confident despite Ronaldo absence|
|Isco, Saul out of Spain Euro 2016 squad|
|Florentino Perez touts revamp of Champions League format|
|Hazard headlines Belgium squad for Euro 2016|
|Zinchenko handed Ukraine call-up|
|Morata: Improving on Spain´s Euro feats is impossible|
|Injured duo return to make Hungary Euro 2016 squad|
|Mourinho: I will not be distracted by Guardiola battle|
|Ledley passed fit for Wales Euro 2016 squad|
|Turan, Sahin and Calhanoglu lead Turkey´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Shevchenko tells AC Milan to sign Yarmolenko|
|Rashford, Sturridge make England´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Schweinsteiger set for return to Germany training|
|Pato: I expected more games at Chelsea|
|Real Madrid may go for Pogba - Perez|
|World Cup Qualifying Review: New Zealand march on|
|Carvajal furious at missing Euro 2016|
|Mkhitaryan in no rush to sign Borussia Dortmund renewal|
|Pele to auction off memorabilia|
|Reus left out of Germany´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Blind determined to fight for his place under Mourinho|
|Aulas open to PSG bid for Lacazette|
|Giroud does not understand France booing|
|Four places up for grabs as Del Bosque closes on final Spain squad|
|Messi tax trial begins in Barcelona|
|Hart: England can be surprise package at Euro 2016|
|Ancelotti will not push out Gotze - Khedira|
|Ibrahimovic hints at Malmo return|
|Depay not blaming Van Gaal for his Manchester United struggles|
|Deschamps unhappy with ´unfair´ Giroud boos|
|Juventus adamant no Olympics for Dybala|
|Navas ruled out of Copa America|
|Iniesta: Madrid will be disappointed not to win La Liga|
|Messi on track in recovery|
|Morata: I want to succeed at Madrid, but would consider Premier League|
|Lewandowski headlines expected Poland squad|
|France boss Deschamps ´surprised´ by Cameroon performance|
|Payet: I´m expected to score every free-kick now|
|Bashful Rami admits to mistakes against Cameroon|
|Peseiro to leave Porto|
|France 3 Cameroon 2: Payet stunner snatches victory|
|Laxalt for Rodriguez in Uruguay´s Copa squad|
|Guingamp unveil Kombouare as new head coach|
|Real Madrid confirm Achilles problem for Navas|
|Wilmots´ woes worsen as Belgium lose Lombaerts, Boyata|
|Marotta: Juventus optimistic on Dani Alves deal|
|Berlusconi: I courted Guardiola at Barcelona|
|Berlusconi: Donnarumma not for sale, even for €80m|
|Ginola back at home following heart surgery|
|Departing City boss Pellegrini could quit management|
|Ayestaran prepared to fight to keep Gomes at Valencia|
|Sagna hopes to remain at City under Guardiola|
|France 3-2 Cameroon: Payet nets dramatic late winner for Euro 2016 hosts|
|Roma complete permanent Rudiger deal|
|Senderos left out of final Switzerland squad for Euro 2016|
|AFC Wimbledon 2 Plymouth Argyle 0: Dons reach the third tier|
|Spain v South Korea: Pedro wants goalscoring momentum|
|Reus demands Dortmund transfers|
|Poland v Netherlands: Lewandowski out to make the most of set pieces|
|Low still waiting on Germany fitness news|
|Juanfran promises Champions League success in heartfelt letter to fans|
|Belgium v Finland: Hazard backs squad to cope without Kompany|
|Skriniar joins Skrtel, Hamsik in Slovakia squad|
|Scholl: Gotze and Lewandowski dealings strange|
|Terry: Chelsea must learn from mistakes and fight for trophies again|
|Belgium v Finland: Hazard backs squad to cope without Kompany|
|Injury comeback on track, says Germany´s Khedira|
|Victor Sanchez sacked by Depor|
|Rashford signs Manchester United renewal|
|Sturridge resumes England training|
|Pellegrini rues decision to go public with Guardiola appointment|
|Luxembourg v Nigeria: Yusuf set for latest audition|
|Icardi, Perisic not for sale at any price - Inter|
|Carvajal to miss Euro 2016, replaced by Bellerin|
|Terry certain of Mourinho success at Manchester United|
|Pirlo not bitter towards Conte over Euro 2016 snub|
|Dortmund rule out Sokratis exit amid Atletico Madrid links|
|Barcelona revert to tradition with new kit|
|Robben and Ribery in line for Bayern renewals|
|King backs Wales to ´do a Leicester´ at Euro 2016|
|Deschamps: Zidane´s Champions League win is amazing|
|Pulido rescued by Mexican authorities|
|Alaves secure La Liga promotion|
|Gabriel´s childhood dream becomes a reality|
|Mexico v Chile: Vidal set for return|
|Boateng left ´sad´ after politician´s controversial comments|
|Mooy undecided on future|
|Gotze not concentrated on club future|
|Panama 0 Brazil 2: Jonas breaks goalscoring drought, Gabriel nets on debut|
|Postecoglou pleased with additions ahead of Greece clashes|
|Panama 0-2 Brazil: Jonas breaks goalscoring drought, Gabriel nets on debut|
|Ter Stegen laments ´unlucky´ error in Germany defeat|
|Santos hoping for Portugal improvement ahead of Euro 2016|
|Ronaldo dismisses critics after Champions League win|
|Uruguayan side complete Leicester-style championship win|
|New York City 2 Orlando City 2: Molino salvages late point|
|Colombia 3 Haiti 1: Cuadrado helps Pekerman´s side to win|
|Strachan hits out at wayward passing|
|Conte focusing on positives after Scotland victory|
|Colombia 3-1 Haiti: Cuadrado helps Pekerman's side to win|