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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 19, 2007

Grant not worried by Drogba absence

Manager Avram Grant insists Chelsea will not struggle to score in Didier Drogba's absence despite last night's goalless draw with Valencia.

Drogba will be unavailable for the Blues until mid-February if his recovery from knee surgery is followed by his expected participation in the African Nations Cup.

Chelsea sorely missed their top scorer in their final Champions League Group match, creating a hatful of chances in a dominant final half hour.

Salomon Kalou and Joe Cole hit the woodwork while Claudio Pizarro should also have ended the stalemate at Stamford Bridge.

Grant stressed that the Blues had already qualified for the last 16 as Group B winners regardless of the outcome, but there was no disguising their finishing was poor.

Next up is Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash with title rivals Arsenal, but Grant denies his side will travel to the Emirates short on firepower.

He said: 'We've won games with Didier Drogba, but we've also won games without him.

'The match against Valencia was not important for qualification, so we wanted to play good football instead. We managed that and should have won 5-0.'

Grant, who named a surprisingly strong team against Valencia including Frank Lampard and John Terry, has set his sights on reaching the Champions League final.

He said: 'We want to be at least in the 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.'

Andriy Shevchenko will spearhead Chelsea's assault on the Emirates Stadium with Grant allaying fears over his fitness.

Shevchenko failed to emerge for the second half against Valencia but the manager revealed the decision to take him off at the interval was made in advance.

He said: 'We knew Shevchenko 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.'