New boy Anelka poised for Chelsea debut

January 11, 2008

Chelsea manager Avram Grant believes Nicolas Anelka will provide the extra firepower to help them overcome the loss of Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba during the next month.

Anelka is moving to Stamford Bridge after Chelsea and Bolton agreed terms this morning.

He is understood to have been offered a four-year contract by the London club who are thought to have paid £15 million for the striker.

The Frenchman could make his debut against Tottenham tomorrow after being registered in time with the Premier League.

Drogba and Kalou are away on international duty in the African Nations Cup, along with midfielders Michael Essien and Mikel John Obi, so Anelka's arrival will ease the pressure on the club's only fit striker Claudio Pizarro.

Grant said it was no secret he was looking for a centre forward to add to the squad and said Anelka was 'a good striker'.

'First of all he is a good finisher,' said Grant.

'He scores a lot of goals but not only that he can provide assists. He is a good footballer and has good pace.

'If I was not convinced about his temperament, he would not be here. He is a player who can play in any system and with any good players beside him.

'Even though we miss so many players, we didn't make rush decisions, even though everyone expected us to. We decided to take players not only for six weeks but to think about Chelsea longer term but no more signings planned at the moment.'

Grant's side face Tottenham at Stamford Bridge with goalkeepers Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini back in contention for the number one jersey.

Grant is good friends with Tottenham's new coach Juande Ramos and knows they will be in for a difficult encounter.

Spurs have not beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since 1990 but Grant says the record means nothing as long as they get the points tomorrow.

Grant added: 'Tottenham is a good team with good players and coach. He is a good friend of mine and he did a very good job in Seville.

'It is not easy to play against them. They deserved to win against Arsenal in the Carling Cup. It will not be an easy game for us but not for them also. They play very good attacking football and have a good coach. We want to win anyway it doesn't matter about the other results.'

The loss of four players to the African Nations Cup plus injuries to captain John Terry, striker Andriy Shevchenko and midfielder Frank Lampard, has depleted Grant's squad but he is determined to find solutions during their absence.

Grant added: 'It is a very challenging time, I can cry about the situation or look for solutions. What I have done in the last three matches is to look for solutions, sometimes tactical and sometimes other things.

'But this is the time to see the strength of the squad and the staff. All of them are doing a fantastic job.'

Meanwhile Grant believes Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp would make a perfect boss on Tyneside.

Grant worked with Redknapp on the south coast and says he has all the credentials to be one of the best club managers in the game.

Grant added: 'Harry Redknapp can be a good manager in any club, I like him. He is a good manager, he knows how to get the best out of the payers. He can be a good manager but I think he wants to stay in Portsmouth.

'If he signs for Newcastle it is a good deal for them.'

Grant also has some sympathy with Sam Allardyce.

He said: 'I don't feel so comfortable when a manager finishes his job after a few months of working.

'You need to give a manager one year or two years to see how it works. In football today there's a lot of things involved, money, supporters, owners, so the pressure becomes higher but I think it is a good pressure.

'It is a pressure to be manager of Chelsea. I like this pressure. Until now we've done a good job so we want that to continue.'