Carlo Ancelotti hailed Chelsea's 7-2 drubbing of weakened Sunderland as their best performance of the season.
Two goals apiece from Frank Lampard and Nicolas Anelka plus others from Michael Ballack, Florent Malouda and Ashley Cole set the seal on a fabulous afternoon for Chelsea. The Blues remain top of the Barclays Premier League by a single point from Manchester United but have a game in hand on their rivals.
"I think that was maybe the best performance this season," said Ancelotti.
"We played very well until the end of the match. We started the game very well. I'm very happy because it's an important time for us.
"Without the African players we maybe could have some problems. I always said I have a fantastic squad and other players played very well, especially Juliano Belletti in a new position for him, so it is a good moment for us.
"We played a lot of times without Drogba, and Nicolas Anelka did very well in the past. He also did very well. Nicolas is a fantastic striker, he is a top striker, and we are very happy to have him in our squad.
"We don't want to send a message to the other teams. This performance for us is very good because it improves our motivation and improves our determination to do better if it is possible.
"These are important matches for us because we can also play without the African players.
"But I have a fantastic squad and in this period I will use other players."
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