Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti called for “character” from his team after the defending champion’s winless run in the Premier League was extended to three matches.
The Blues drew 1-1 at Newcastle yesterday for a first point in three games in English soccer’s top league. They now trail leader Manchester United by two points.
“It is an opportunity to show our character, our personality, and it will be a good motivation to do better,” Ancelotti told reporters. “Experience shows that during a season these things happen.”
United has 31 points, with Chelsea on 29, ahead of Arsenal on goal difference. Manchester City is three points further back, with Spurs moving to 25 points after rallying to beat Liverpool 2-1 yesterday. Newcastle rises three places to ninth, with Liverpool dropping one place to 10th.
There’s been speculation in U.K. newspapers about Ancelotti’s position at Chelsea, with the Sunday Telegraph reporting yesterday that the Blues will attempt to hire Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola if their coach leaves.
Ancelotti is unhappy at the firing of assistant manager Ray Wilkins and will lose another ally when Sporting Director Frank Arnesen leaves after this season, the Telegraph said. On Nov. 22, Ancelotti denied he’s considering quitting.
“They are very important, not just as technical players but they have personality, character and at this moment we need this kind of player,” he said, adding that they may even play against Everton next weekend.
Newcastle almost took a second-minute lead when Steven Taylor headed a Danny Guthrie cross toward goal, although Petr Cech was able to push the ball clear. Shola Ameobi was unable to score from the rebound.
Taylor was making his first start of the season, while his partner in central defense, Sol Campbell, was playing for only a third time as Newcastle was without suspended duo Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini.
A mistake by Chelsea center-back Alex gave the home team an early advantage. His attempted back-pass was hit past Cech and Carroll reacted quickest to steer the ball into the net. Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul stopped a powerful shot from Didier Drogba and fullback Jose Enrique cleared off the line from Alex.
A deflected Kalou shot tied the game, but neither team was able to find a winner in the second half. Chelsea’s Ashley Cole headed clear from Wayne Routledge on the line, while Newcastle withstood a barrage of Chelsea pressure late on.
“Chelsea is a top-class team and they would have wanted to bounce back after recent results and the game was as tough as we thought,” Newcastle manager Chris Hughton told reporters.
Both teams created a host of chances, with Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe also missing a second-half penalty five minutes before his team’s first goal.
“When you play Liverpool it’s not easy, we showed everyone what we can do and I hope we can carry on,” Tottenham defender William Gallas told Sky Sports.
Two days ago, Dimitar Berbatov scored five goals as Manchester United beat Blackburn 7-1. Arsenal won 4-2 at Aston Villa, Manchester City drew 1-1 at Stoke City, while Bolton and Blackpool tied 2-2.
Last-place West Ham defeated Wigan 3-1, Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Sunderland 3-2, Fulham and Birmingham City tied 1-1, and West Bromwich Albion won 4-1 at Everton.
It is the first time all 20 teams have scored in the same round of Premier League games.
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