AVB seeks Christmas cheer

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Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Bopas is hoping a tough Christmas schedule will be just the tonic for his side to rediscover their best form.

The Blues kick-off the festive period with a trip to Newcastle United and the hosting of Manchester City, which sandwiches their crunch Champions League group game against Valencia.

After travelling to Wigan Athletic, Villas-Boas' side face London derbies against Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham, games that the Portuguese boss hopes can inspire his side to return to their best.

"The Champions League is a life and death situation and we will need to up the tempo and play with desire," he said.

"For our Premier League challenge to be alive we need to make the most of the December fixtures. We play most of the top teams and that is our challenge for December. March and April can be as decisive, but as we play the top teams it's a fact.

"Away from home we've been more solid, statistically and as a team. At the moment, when we play at home we've not been good enough, we need to get our fans behind us.

"You can feel Stamford Bridge has become anxious when we play at home but we need their full support, it's the only way you can build the right atmosphere. We have two big games at home now where we need the fans right behind us."

Maxi Rodriguez and Martin Kelly's second half goals sent Chelsea crashing out of the Carling Cup, but their late rally which saw both Nicolas Anelka and Fernando Torres denied gives the boss reason to be encouraged.

"It was not good today; our best spell was when we were 2-0 down when we managed to get the width right and our crossing right, but for 70 minutes it wasn't good enough," he added.

"In the second half Liverpool came out very strong and managed to cause us problems. They took a two-goal lead and in the end were far


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