Didier Drogba has all but conceded defeat in the Premier League title race, admitting Chelsea's disappointing form has been "hard to live with" and that a "bad mood" surrounds the club.
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The domestic double-winning Blues are ten points behind leaders Manchester United and are seemingly back to square one after a run of promising results was followed by Sunday's defeat at home to Liverpool.
The January signings of Fernando Torres and David Luiz gave the club a boost but with their Premier League crown slipping from their grasp, Drogba's comments do not hint at the sort of atmosphere at Stamford Bridge that would be required to launch a miraculous comeback in the title race.
Ivory Coast international Drogba is one of a number of players who has struggled for form and fitness this season, and he fears the Liverpool loss could prove to be a fatal blow.
He said: "We had started to see light at the end of the tunnel once again. But this latest defeat by Liverpool has cut away our legs and jeopardised our chances of winning the league title once more. It is going to be difficult for us to catch up with Manchester United.''
Chelsea are still in the FA Cup and Champions League, but Drogba is worried about the morale within the squad as the season enters a decisive period.
He added: "Our league position is similar to what it was last season. But absences, and the fact that we've not been scoring as many goals, has made for a bad mood around the place. I'm finding our bad spell hard to live with, as do the rest of the squad. We are suffering, given that Chelsea are not accustomed to losing matches. (Manager) Carlo Ancelotti has been unhappy in recent weeks.''
Drogba played for Ivory Coast for the first time since the World Cup on Tuesday as he helped set up the only goal of the game for Didier Ya Konan in a 1-0 victory over Mali.