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|
|Burnley 2 Watford 0: Landmark goals for Hendrick and Keane seal first win in four|
|Schmidt lauds hitman Hernandez|
|Klopp not banking on Liverpool winning title|
|Kroos plays down Ronaldo rage rumours|
|Confidence coursing through Copenhagen|
|Madrid form draws no concern for Zidane|
|Burki looking forward to ´dream´ Madrid clash|
|Juve and Higuain have work to do - Allegri|
|CSKA boss Slutski wary of Tottenham threat|
|Pochettino: Kane to return within three weeks|
|City youngster Diaz signs three-year deal|
|Aurier vows to ´continue working hard´ for PSG despite prison sentence|
|Tuchel expecting Ronaldo on top form|
|Ter Stegen eyes new Barcelona deal|
|Hazard: No excuse for Arsenal defeat|
|Cisse back in training with Auxerre|
|Hummels resumes training ahead of Atletico clash|
|Facing Barcelona´s MSN not a nightmare, insists Bravo|
|Thiago: Atletico defence best in the world|
|Alonso wants to end career at Bayern Munich|
|Ranieri went to Slimani for Porto advice|
|Draxler: Wolfsburg blocked my exit|
|Samoura defends abolishment of racism task force|
|Sampaoli backs Nasri for France recall|
|Gisdol ´twitching with joy´ at Hamburg presentation|
|Zanetti determined Inter will return to the top|
|Getafe sack Esnaider|
|Bartra happy with playing time at Dortmund|
|Aurier handed two-month prison sentence over police altercation|
|Klopp attributes Lallana´s fine form to hard work|
|Totti´s wife slams ´small man´ Spalletti|
|Guardiola has already done an amazing job at Manchester City - Alonso|
|Referees attacked by hooligans in Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|Griezmann: I am not the anti-Benzema|
|Sterling hails Guardiola´s role in goalscoring form|
|Champions League Matchday Two: Madrid look for first win in Dortmund|
|Smalling confident Rooney will bounce back|
|Vardy fears ´permanent stain against my name´ following casino incident|
|Brave Wilshere will reap rewards of loan move - Howe|
|MLS Review: Sounders surprise Galaxy, Kamara double sinks New England|
|Walcott a special case - Wenger|
|Guardiola striving for more after perfect 10|
|Chelsea risk another mid-table finish, admits Conte|
|Montella feels AC Milan lacked courage|
|Robben speaks out on injury fears|
|Fiorentina 0 AC Milan 0: Ilicic misses penalty on Montella´s return|
|Gisdol replaces Labbadia at Hamburg|
|Ibrahimovic threatened me over Pogba deal - Raiola|
|Balotelli could make Nice return against Krasnodar|
|Southampton deserved to win – Bilic|
|Podolski takes aim at Mourinho over Schweinsteiger treatment|
|Atletico midfielder Augusto suffers ACL injury|
|Sagna: More to Aguero than goals|
|Errors are urgent matter for Schalke - Weinzierl|
|Puel delighted with sublime Southampton second half|
|Simeone praises ´decisive´ Gameiro|
|Noble: West Ham can´t get any worse|
|Pjanic: I will play wherever Allegri needs me|
|West Ham 0 Southampton 3: Defensive woes pile pressure on Bilic|
|Kondogbia makes the same mistakes often – De Boer|
|Gray backed by Dyche after ban for abusive social media posts|
|Gabriel needs time to get used to Serie A - Ausilio|
|Atletico Madrid´s Gimenez and Augusto doubts for Bayern Munich clash|
|Atletico Madrid 1 Deportivo La Coruna 0: Griezmann downs 10-man Depor|
|Angry Spalletti slams Roma players´ attitude|
|Liverpool have unbelievable quality - Milner|
|Simeone´s son Giovanni scores first Serie A goal|
|Ivanovic: Chelsea let Conte down|
|Inter 1 Bologna 1: Battling Bologna end Inter streak|
|Guardiola: Top-four finish very tough for Man City|
|Rodgers expecting tough test against City and Aguero|
|Zamparini admits Balotelli interested Palermo|
|Former Swansea, Arsenal great Mel Charles dies|
|Asamoah, Rugani ruled out for up to seven weeks|
|Totti reaches 250 Serie A goals in Roma defeat|
|Alves makes LaLiga history as Valencia see off Leganes|
|Guardiola rues De Bruyne injury as Man City await scan|
|Las Palmas draw could prove costly, admits Morata|
|Gabriel explains choosing Inter over Juventus|
|Hamburg dismiss Labbadia|
|West Ham players expect Payet´s free-kick magic - Antonio|
|Man City must tell Guardiola to stop, says Toure´s agent|
|Hamsik thrilled to reach 100 Napoli goals|
|Zabaleta warns Man City over Celtic backlash|
|MLS Review: Red Bulls, Toronto into play-offs|
|´We were unlucky´ - Bale|
|Guardiola keen for Spurs test|
|Rodgers: I never fell out with Sterling|
|Wenger hails ´different´ Walcott|
|Mazzarri backs Deeney for England call-up|
|Mamelodi Sundowns and Zamalek reach CAF Champions League final|