LONDON // Some of the most important games of Carlo Ancelotti's career have been against Liverpool. Back in 1984, he was an injured spectator as he watched his Roma teammates lose to Liverpool in the final of the European Cup. As coach of AC Milan, in 2005, he tasted defeat again in a penalty shootout in Europe's elite contest.
The painful memory of Istanbul was wiped out two years later when Milan triumphed in Athens. Ancelotti would love a repeat on his first visit to Anfield today. Victory, coupled with a defeat for Manchester United at Sunderland, would see Chelsea crowned champions. "In important moments of my career I have come up against Liverpool," he said. "Liverpool have a great, great history. I never played at Anfield as a player and coach. I have never been there and for this I am excited about Sunday. Everyone has spoken to me about this stadium and the atmosphere.
"I have heard the fans sing 'You'll never walk alone' and every time it's a fantastic emotion - even if you are not a Liverpool fan." While Ancelotti is keen to sample that moment, he also wants to witness a Liverpool side at its best, rather than the team whose inconsistency is likely to see them finish outside the top four. It would provoke a similar response from Chelsea, according to their coach, if Rafa Benitez's team are on top of their game and perhaps bring greater respect if they win.
"For me, it's better to think they will be at their best," said Ancelotti. "On their day, they can beat anyone. They are aggressive at home, play very quick in midfield and use [Steven] Gerrard behind [their] striker and he is very dangerous in that position." But attack has been Chelsea's biggest strength in this campaign. They have scored 93 goals, four short of United's Premier League record set 10 years ago.
Tottenham were the last team to break the century mark in the 1962/63 season when they scored 111, but finished second. Ancelotti is not concerned with records. "It is not our aim," he said. "It's our aim is to score again because we need to win. I want to have two goals and not concede." With two games left, Ancelotti and his team remain focused. He said they always have been, even after the revelations about the private lives of John Terry, the club captain, and Ashley Cole.
"The private issues stayed outside. They never came in to disturb our atmosphere," he added. Chelsea will require all of those qualities if they are to prevail at Anfield for the first time in the league since 2005 - the last time they won the Premier League title. firstname.lastname@example.org
1984 European Cup final The injured Roma player could only watch as Bruce Grobbelaar's famous spaghetti legs antics helped Liverpool win a penalty shootout to lift the cup. 2005 Champions League final Three-nil ahead at half time, the AC Milan manager could only watch in horror as Liverpool drew level in Istanbul before winning on another shootout. 2007 Champions League final Milan banished the memories of 2005 with a 2-1 win in Athens. Ancelotti's choice of the veteran Pippo Inzaghi, left, up front paid off as he scored both goals.