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|
|Ibrahimovic: United fans are waiting for me|
|Deulofeu shines for Everton, Cook opens Bournemouth account|
|Higuain out to emulate Del Piero|
|Kante does his talking on the pitch - Conte|
|Mourinho explains Fosu-Mensah snub|
|Klopp: No more unwanted players at Liverpool|
|Inter want more than €60m for Icardi - Thohir|
|Leicester can replace Kante - Ranieri|
|Lazio complete Wallace signing|
|Gueye set to join Everton, confirms Di Matteo|
|Tuchel: Transfer market has gone cash crazy|
|Leicester hand King new four-year deal|
|No deal done for Pogba, says Raiola|
|Rooney: Mourinho impact already huge|
|Lafferty hit with FA betting charge|
|Top-four finish never enough for Arsenal, insists Wenger|
|Partey hoping to make his mark on Atletico squad|
|Ibrahimovic in, Schweinsteiger out as United head for Galatasaray friendly|
|Vietto set for Sevilla after completing medical|
|I rejected Besiktas to fight for Barcelona spot, reveals Mathieu|
|De Laurentiis fumes at Higuain´s ´lack of respect´|
|Promising Janssen boosts Tottenham´s title hopes|
|Besiktas sign Adriano on three-year contract|
|Tottenham 0 Atletico Madrid 1: Godin grabs the winner|
|Gomis completes Marseille loan move|
|Iniesta surprised at Casillas-Del Bosque spat|
|New Juve signings do not guarantee success - Allegri|
|New Juve signings do not guarantee success - Allegri|
|Middlesbrough snap up goalkeeper Guzan|
|Guardiola still loves Ribery despite jibes|
|West Ham worry over Tore injury|
|Serie A could be another one-horse race, says Eriksson|
|Schweinsteiger retires from Germany duty|
|Iniesta welcomes Barca´s midfield competition|
|Drogba: No luck in Arsenal scoring record|
|Wenger seeks ´experienced´ striker to bolster Arsenal attack|
|Eriksson and Shanghai SIPG still fighting|
|MLS All-Stars 1 Arsenal 2: Premier League giants win late as Xhaka makes debut|
|Conte: I want aggression and intensity|
|Wimmer backs physical Janssen for Tottenham success|
|Klopp: I wouldn´t spend £100m on one player|
|Sampaoli: Taking Argentina job would be irresponsible|
|Payet absence no excuse - Noble|
|Gabriel Jesus expects Palmeiras exit amid Manchester City rumours|
|Domzale 2 West Ham 1: Crnic double stuns Bilic´s side|
|Juventus target Gabriel Barbosa says Santos exit is close|
|Leicester duo ready for ´once in a lifetime´ Champions League journey|
|Fabregas apologises for Klavan lunge|
|Reschke: Guardiola wanted Tuchel to be his successor|
|Pochettino expecting further Tottenham signings|
|Given retires from international football|
|Abdi and Pudil swap Watford for Wednesday|
|Leicester sign Chilwell to new five-year deal|
|Klopp pre-season ´most intense ever´ for Sturridge|
|Simeone backs Griezmann for Ballon d´Or final three|
|Puskas Award winner quits football - to become a gamer|
|Simeone: Champions League final felt like a death|
|Higuain: I have to prove my worth to Juventus|
|Guardiola confirms interest in Sane and Stones|
|Moreno set for Manchester City switch and Deportivo loan, claims agent|
|De Laurentiis pushed me into Juventus move - Higuain|
|Savic seeking to put injury woe behind him|
|Borussia Dortmund 1 Manchester City 1 (5-6 pens): Gunn´s shootout saves earn Guardiola first win|
|Oblak: Atleti need consistency and luck|
|Warburton rubbishes Van Persie rumours|
|Hospitalised Grujic ´can´t remember anything´, says Klopp|
|Premier League, Serie A appeal to Simeone|
|Copa Libertadores success ´a dream´ for Borja|
|Pochettino honoured by Simeone comparisons|
|Argentina have not asked for Sampaoli - Monchi|
|Ancelotti: Fitness the key for Bayern|
|Bayern win ´a small foundation´ for Montella´s Milan|
|Icardi missing due to injury - Mancini|
|Emery satisfied with warm-up win over Madrid|
|Conte quiet on Tevez, apologises for Fabregas red|
|´It was far from a friendly´ - Klopp on Chelsea defeat|
|Madrid off the pace, concedes Zidane|
|Chelsea 1 Liverpool 0: Cahill´s header seals win|
|Grujic says Chelsea´s Matic told him to sign for Liverpool|
|Bolasie wants to see Berahino and Benteke at Crystal Palace|
|Rodgers hails ´outstanding result´ as Celtic draw|
|Walcott claims level of MLS is close to Premier League|
|Bayern Munich 3 AC Milan 3 (3-5 on penalties): Bonaventura seals win|
|Atletico Nacional 1 Independiente del Valle 0 (2-1 agg): Borja secures Copa Libertadores crown|
|Icardi absent again as Inter held by Estudiantes|
|Real Madrid 1 Paris Saint-Germain 3: Zidane oversees poor pre-season start|
|Hazard vows to rediscover best Chelsea form|
|Klopp reveals why he sent Sakho back to Liverpool|
|Tevez: Conte wanted me at Chelsea|
|Sunderland hopeful Defoe will be fit for Man City opener|
|Sundowns overcome Zamalek to book semi-final spot|