PARIS, Oct 17, 2010 (AFP) - Carlo Ancelotti is a contented man at this stage of the season, despite his team missing a golden opportunity to open up significant daylight over their chief Premier League title rivals.
Chelsea were held to a 0-0 draw by Aston Villa on Saturday as their poor record at the venue continued.
A poor miss from French striker Nicolas Anelka cost Chelsea the chance of extending their lead to seven points, instead of the five-point advantage they have as they break for Champions League duty in Moscow on Wednesday.
Given Chelsea's record of just one win in their last 12 visits to Villa Park and the fact that Villa defeated them 2-1 almost exactly 12 months ago, Ancelotti feels his side should be praised for the manner in which they avoided defeat, despite missing Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and other key players.
"I am not disappointed. It was a difficult game at Villa. Welost against them last year and they always make it a hard game for us. So this year it is better.
"It was a good result for us. At this moment in the season, to be five points clear at the top, ahead of Manchester United is good.
"I think we did enough and we deserved to win. After a poor start, we looked very good. We hit the post and we created chances. I don't want to talk about the injured players, because the people who came in did really well. They all played a really good game."
Ancelotti does not expect Ivory Coast striker Drogba to have recovered from the virus that has kept him out of action in time to make the trip to Moscow and the Italian is also going to spend the next 48 hours weighing up which players he wants to use on Spartak's plastic pitch.
He will have a few more options available to him for the group game with at least three of his injured players returning and Ancelotti said: "The players who could be ok for the Spartak game are Daniel Sturridge, Alex and Kalou.
"I hope they can make it. We have to look at them in training."
Gerard Houllier was proud of his players and the effort they put in to secure a point, after many disruptions prior to kick off, which saw Villa lose three key players.
"On Friday I told everyone that we had no problems.
"Then Emile Heskey hurt his back in training, Luke Young damaged his hamstring. On the morning of the game Marc Albrighton called to say he had been sick all night. The way the other players reacted to that was really good.
"The only thing that our performance did not have was a goal."
Villa also had to cope with an injury to Richard Dunne which required four stitches in his ankle and he had to depart the action after only 14 minutes.
There is a possibility there could be some nerve damage and Villa are awaiting more medical reports. And Houllier has told his Villa players to get used to extended training sessions and double sessions as he tries to build a better level of fitness throughout his squad, following the taunts of Chelsea captain John Terry last season, when he claimed everyone in the Premier League knew Villa tired in the second half of the season.
"It is a good job for him we did not score the late goal! We are getting there with the fitness. I know some people are moaning, but training is not to pass the time. It is to make improvements and practise."