Drogba looks to stake claim for Chelsea place

Didier Drogba will have a point to prove to manager Carlo Ancelotti when he returns to the Chelsea team for Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round replay against Everton at Stamford Bridge.

Updated: February 17, 2011 19:54 IST
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London: Didier Drogba will have a point to prove to manager Carlo Ancelotti when he returns to the Chelsea team for Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round replay against Everton at Stamford Bridge.

The Ivory Coast international, Chelsea's chief striker for the past six seasons, was dropped to the bench for Monday's Premier League match at Fulham to accommodate Fernando Torres, the club's recent 50 million pound ($81 million) signing from Liverpool.

But with Torres cup-tied having played in the competition for Liverpool this season, Drogba will be back in the starting XI and will attempt to increase the goal threat of the holders, who haven't scored in their last two outings.

"I don't know if Didier was happy (with being dropped) but it doesn't matter — every player knows that every game is important," Ancelotti said. "We wanted to rotate to maintain his condition and to give everyone in the squad great motivation."

With both Drogba and Torres preferring to play on their own up front and doubts persisting over whether they can make an effective double act, Drogba could find himself starting on the bench many more times this season.

A good performance against Everton, which is struggling in the bottom half of the Premier League and whose confidence is short, will give Ancelotti something to think about.

Everton, however, was arguably the better team in the first match at Goodison Park, which finished 1-1 after Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou's late equalizer, and the team is still packed with quality.

Assistant manager Steve Round acknowledges Everton needs to improve defensively if it is to progress to the last 16, where Reading lies in wait on March 1.

"Our clean sheet record is not as good as it has been in previous years, that's for sure," he said. "But we will go (to Chelsea) with a resilient attitude and high hopes, and try and go one better than last time and get through the tie."

The other fourth-round replay this weekend sees Manchester City host third-tier side Notts County after their 1-1 draw on Jan. 30.

City may not play its strongest team on Sunday, with its priority the Premier League and the Europa League, but it should have more than enough in its reserves to deal with County, which is managed by former England and Manchester United midfielder Paul Ince.

The winners host Aston Villa next on March 2.

The standout fifth-round matchup is non-league Crawley's visit to Old Trafford on Saturday to play Man United, an 11-time winner of the world's oldest cup competition.

United midfielder Paul Scholes said there will be no let-up by his side, which is chasing glory on three fronts as the season approaches its business end.

"You know there are 12 games left in the league, the FA Cup is getting down to the latter stages and Europe is starting again," said Scholes. "Every game becomes more important. It is the time to stand up and start playing."

Crawley, only the sixth non-league team to make it this far in the FA Cup since the Second World War, is second in English football's fifth tier and has already seen off Torquay, Derby and Swindon in its run to the fifth round.

Elsewhere, on Saturday, Birmingham and Stoke are at home to plaay third-tier teams Sheffield on Wednesday and Brighton respectively.

On Sunday, Fulham hosts Bolton in an all-Premier League match and Arsenal visits third-tier team Leyton Orient in a London derby.

West Ham is at home to Burnley on Monday.

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