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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 9, 2008

Grant wants Anelka in place for Spurs showdown

Chelsea are set to speed up the signing of Bolton's Nicolas Anelka in a bid to strengthen their attacking options ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Tottenham.

Chelsea's striking crisis has been compounded by an ankle injury to Andriy Shevchenko while Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou are on international duty with the Ivory Coast for their African Nations Cup build-up.

Chelsea's problems in attack were underlined during their last-gasp 2-1 win over Everton in the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final at Stamford Bridge last night.

A first-half goal from England winger Shaun Wright-Phillips and an own goal in added time by Everton defender Joleon Lescott gave Chelsea a slender advantage to take to Goodison Park for the second leg in a fortnight's time.

The Blues' initial bid for Anelka has been rejected by Bolton who are alleged to value the Frenchman at £15million but Grant now hopes the pace of the negotiations will quicken in time for the player to make his debut against Spurs.

Grant said: 'We have confirmed our interest in Anelka. We wanted him for yesterday and I hope that he will now get him for Saturday.

'If not we'll continue with the players that we have. We are missing three strikers so it's important to do it quickly.'

Chelsea's lack of firepower looked to have cost them when Mikel John Obi was sent off for a reckless 55th-minute lunge at Phil Neville and Ayegbeni Yakubu smashed home an equaliser 11 minutes later.

Mikel's dismissal - his fourth red card in 16 months - was a direct consequence of the clampdown on dangerous tackles by officials.

Referee Peter Walton had no option but to red card the Nigerian although Grant refused to condemn the decision.

He added: 'If this is a red card then two or three players who got yellow cards should also have been sent off. But I don't want to say anything else about this decision because the players who played today deserve to be talked about.

'I understand why I'm being asked about this but I only want to talk about the way my players performed. I'm proud of them. I'm happy that we won. We deserved to win and created a lot of chances in the first half.

'We adapted very quickly to the red card. The players deserve credit for their spirit. We are missing many players and they showed great spirit. They played good football.'

Yakubu's leveller appeared to have given Everton a draw until Lescott, under pressure from Wright-Phillips, nodded the ball into his own net from six yards out

Everton boss David Moyes questioned the legitimacy of the goal but insisted the tie was still very much in the balance.

He said: 'There might have been a case for Shaun Wright-Phillips holding down Lescott for the goal. His arms were definitely on his shoulder.

'We worked very hard to get back in the tie. But Chelsea are relentless and they just keep on going. We sat back a bit and they came at us.

'The tie's still alive but we're disappointed we didn't come away with a draw in the end.'