Byline: Simon Johnson
CARLO ANCELOTTI today hit back at Arsene Wenger, insisting Chelsea's Champions League exit will boost their title bid.
Wenger claimed the Blues will be at a mental disadvantage following their defeat at the last-16 stage of Europe's premier club competition last week.
Ancelotti's side have already begun to bounce back after beating Portsmouth 5-0 on Wednesday night to climb above Arsenal and to within a point of Premier League leaders Manchester United.
Both of Chelsea's rivals have huge matches against Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively in the quarterfinals of the Champions League and the Italian feels his team will benefit from being able to purely focus on domestic matters. Although Ancelotti agreed with Gunners boss Wenger's assertion that the Inter defeat would have a psychological impact, he insisted that the players had put it behind them.
He said: "Mentally it was not good for us to go out of the Champions League. But after the victory against Portsmouth this moment is finished and we have to look forward. We had a very good reaction during the game.
"After tomorrow's game [against Aston Villa] we have one week to prepare for Manchester United, then one week to the FA Cup semi-final. It could be an advantage for us.
"I think the Champions League takes out a lot of energy physically and mentally. We can take advantage of this if we prepare well for the games and if we play with a high tempo. It is the same pressure for all the teams now.
"We're arriving at the end of the season and every game is very important."
Chelsea take on Villa having been rocked by another loss to their defence with Ricardo Carvalho (ankle) joining Ashley Cole (fractured ankle), Jose Bosingwa (knee) and Branislav Ivanovic (knee) on the sidelines, while Michael Essien is still struggling to return from a knee problem. …