Ancelotti's time to reflect as Chelsea take on Villa

As the Chelsea coach looks back on 2010, he will remark on a fine 10 months which have been slightly marred by the last two.

Carlo Ancelotti watches his side beat Bolton.
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A new year is often a time for reflection: the past 12 months are analysed, success and failures are noted and resolutions are made.

As Carlo Ancelotti looks back on 2010, he will remark on a fine 10 months which have been slightly marred by the last two.

Chelsea began the year at the top of the Premier League. They were still there in May, claiming the title in Ancelotti's first season. They were No 1 in September, too, as a flurry of goals signalled an impressive start to the 2010/11 season.

However, that is when things started to go awry for the champions. Defeats at Manchester City and Liverpool preceded the club's worst run of form since 1999.

Wednesday's hard-fought 1-0 home win against Bolton Wanderers was their first victory in seven league matches - a run of form that has seen them drop from top spot to fifth place.

If inspiration is needed to help Ancelotti and Chelsea reclaim past form, they need look no further than the fixture in March against today's opponents Aston Villa, when they beat the Midlands side 7-1 at Stamford Bridge.

"We will be reminded of that fantastic win but this time it will be a different story," Ancelotti said ahead of today's match against a team who have won just once in seven matches and were drubbed 4-0 on Tuesday by Manchester City.

"They are not in a good moment and we are trying to move on from a difficult moment.

"Last year it was different because we were in good condition. This time, though, it is not like that and, like us, Aston Villa are a team in trouble. Against us they have a good opportunity to move on but we have to confirm we have moved on by beating them."

With struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers the next opponents, Chelsea have a nice run of games and the chance to banish the memory of their end-of-year slump.

"I don't remember a time in my career when I have had a run of results like this. It is a difficult moment to move on from but there has never been a whole year when everything has been OK," Ancelotti added.

"This is a job where you have to be able to manage the difficult moments. I still believe the way I do things is the right way and I believe that if we move past this situation we will be stronger. I can not say the moment is definitely behind us."

Injuries have exposed a certain lack of depth in Chelsea's squad this season. Jeffrey Bruma, the young Dutch centre-back, will partner John Terry today in an injury-hit defence.

However, Ancelotti has not yet decided whether to strengthen his squad in the transfer window.

"We are thinking about whether we need to buy a player. I don't know if we need new players. If we think we need a player then we can buy. It was not a mistake not to buy players at the start of the season, we decided to put more young players forward and we're happy with that. I think the players I have here are good enough to win the title."

Ancelotti's situation pales in comparison to that of Gerard Houllier, the Aston Villa manager.

Villa have won only three of 14 league encounters under Houllier as alleged bust-ups with several senior players and a lengthy injury list have taken their toll.

"With the league position we are in, there is obviously a danger of relegation. But the best way to pick up is to react and get back into winning ways," said Houllier, who believes the next few games will show which members of his squad are up for the challenge.

"At some stage you know who you can go to war with and who you can't go with. But we are not at this stage yet."

* Compiled with agencies

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