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Sep 24, 2010

Hoddle: Chelsea have strongest squad in England

Glenn Hoddle started the first Chelsea Revolution and the former Blues boss is now confident that Carlo Ancelotti has the strongest team in the Premier League.

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As Chelsea face their first real big test of the season at Manchester City, followed by a run of games that includes title-chasing Arsenal, the ex-England manager has nothing but admiration for the job Ancelotti is doing at the Bridge.

"Chelsea are playing with such freedom these days. You look at them and you look at the depth of their squad and you think that they right now are the strongest team there," he told the Daily Express. "Ancelotti has got them playing. Technically he has a squad of great players - I believe the strongest squad in the league right now. And he has good players to come off the bench.

"They are scoring goals for fun - but the goals are coming from all areas of the team - not just Drogba or Anelka or Lampard, but also from players like Malouda. They have quality wherever you look. In my view whoever wins the league will have to finish above Chelsea."

Hoddle began the reinvention of Chelsea by signing 1987 Ballon d'Or winner Ruud Gullit and Mark Hughes, which changed the perception of the club under chairman Ken Bates. And he now feels if they can come through this period of tough fixtures they have the strength to make this an historic season.

He added: "This is going to be a tough patch for them, with games against Man City, Arsenal, Villa and Liverpool, but I think they have the strength in depth to cope with it. And they have the experience. It wasn't an easy run winning the title last year, they had some moments, but they came through it.

"I don't have a worry for Chelsea in the league. I think they will win it. Where I have a worry about them is in the Champions League. Chelsea have gone so close now, and have been going for it for so many years, that I worry if they want it too much. Maybe that desire in them to win the Champions League is burning just a bit too much.

"It comes from the top from Roman Abramovich I think, because that is the trophy he really wants, but it is not just him. It is in the players themselves. They want that trophy above any other - and maybe that is a danger. Maybe that just makes you a little bit too desperate, maybe it clouds your vision a bit.

"Also, a lot of these players are getting to the stage now where maybe this is their last shot at it, and they know that.

"You are better off going into a competition knowing you are better than anyone else and knowing you can win it, like they do with the league, having confidence. But they have had a few setbacks in Europe, a few bits of bad luck, never quite made it - so there is not quite the same level of confidence, and maybe a bit of desperation - and I'm not sure that is as healthy.

"It is odd that, in Carlo Ancelotti, who has won it twice and knows all about the competition, they have a manager who should be able to calm that down, steady them, and instil the confidence in him. He is a calming influence, a steadying hand. But it still worries me that it is in the players, inside them."

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