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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 11, 2007

Blues bemoan missed chances at Bridge

Chelsea boss Avram Grant allayed fears over Andriy Shevchenko's fitness by revealing he is available for Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash with Arsenal.

Shevchenko failed to emerge after the interval in tonight's Champions League goalless draw against Valencia following an ineffective first half.

Grant confirmed the decision to bring him off was taken before the match in an effort to keep the Ukraine striker fresh for the trip to the Emirates Stadium.

Chelsea are missing Didier Drogba for at least three weeks as the Ivory Coast striker recovers from knee surgery, leaving Shevchenko to spearhead the attack.

Grant said: 'The decision to bring Shevchenko off at half time was made before the game.

'We knew he was playing three games in eight days and there are many more matches to come.

'It was a decision that Shevchenko and Frank Lampard would not play for 90 minutes because this match was not important for qualification.

'Shevchenko knew before the game that he would be coming off.

'Maybe if he had stayed on the pitch he would have scored but we felt it more important that he keep his physical condition.

'He has not played many full games so we need to keep him in shape. He is supposed to play on Sunday.'

Chelsea had already qualified for the Champions League knockout stages as Group B winners, regardless of tonight's result.

But it was a disappointing finale to their group campaign at Stamford Bridge as they toiled to dispatch a side that also struggled for long spells.

An impressive last half hour saw them go close to snatching victory with Salomon Kalou and Joe Cole striking the woodwork, while Claudio Pizarro missed several chances.

Grant claimed Chelsea's dominance meant Valencia should have been put to the sword - and then set his sights on reaching the Champions League final.

He said: 'This game was not important for qualification so we wanted to play good football.

'We played some great stuff and should have won 5-0. It's a good feeling to finish top of the group.

'But it's more important how we played and we performed very well. We want to be at least in the Champions League final.

'That is our target for the future, but we also want to do it this year and I think we can do it.

'Other teams will believe they can do it but we must want to achieve the best.'

Valencia boss Ronald Koeman conceded Chelsea's defensive steel contributed to a frustrating night for the struggling Spanish club, who finished bottom of Group B.

The Dutchman said: 'We had problems in attack and weren't able to create many chances.

'We did have problems but you must remember we were playing Chelsea, a big club that doesn't concede many goals in the Champions League or Premier League.

'I thought we had two or three chances, though. David Villa could have scored in the first half. But I feel we are getting better, little by little.'