Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti insists his squad has sufficient depth to cope with the physical demands of the Barclays Premier League season.
The champions face Fulham at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night with their lead at the top of the table having been cut to just two points following Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Liverpool. Chelsea started the game without Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba, who has been suffering from malaria for a month, and without the midfield power of Michael Essien.
"We started very well this season without certain players," said Ancelotti. "Didier was not 100% for a month with this problem and we have been without Frank Lampard. We have been without important players but we've shown good football and achieved good results. I think the squad is good enough to win the league."
He added: "We want to play more quickly. Speed in a game is the most important thing. When you have to play slowly from the back, you will find the opponents in the right position.
"Liverpool played fantastically defensively, but we helped them by playing so slowly. Our speed improved our power in the second half."
"The squad is good. It's not large like last year, but it's good. Because at the end of the season, 15 or 16 players will have been involved in a lot of games. The other five or six will not be so involved. We have 16 players at the top level."
Meanwhile, malaria-stricken Drogba is set to lead the attack against their west London neighbours although Chelsea have other doubts over defender Alex (knee) and striker Nicolas Anelka (back).
Drogba had been suffering with a virus since the last international break and it forced him to miss the league game against Aston Villa and the Champions League match at Spartak Moscow.
But malaria was only diagnosed late on Monday night after more blood tests showed a high level of parasitic activity. Drogba has now been treated with a course of medication that should rid his system of the disease within days.
"He suffered, obviously, because he wasn't 100% but now, after treatment, he'll be better," said Ancelotti. "He had malaria. He had the tests in the last day and they showed this kind of virus. Now he's good."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms