By Chris Harris

Chelsea have made a step forward under Carlo Ancelotti, according to Arsène Wenger.

The Blues won the FA Cup under the shrewd stewardship of Guus Hiddink last season but Ancelotti has hit the ground running since his summer arrival at Stamford Bridge, guiding Chelsea to the top of the Premier League table and into the last 16 of the Champions League.

On Sunday, the Italian will come face to face with Wenger for the first time since the Frenchman engineered a famous victory over Milan at the San Siro in 2008. And the Arsenal manager was full of praise for Ancelotti at his pre-match press conference.

"They are a little bit more dangerous going forward now," said Wenger.

"Maybe they are a bit more adventurous but they have kept a good defensive record because they have conceded only eight goals  If you look at the moment we have scored 36 goals, they have scored 33. We have conceded 14 they have conceded eight. They still look very tight at the back.

"I believe as well it is very difficult to judge compared to Guus Hiddink because Guus Hiddink came in the middle of [last] season and didn't stay for a long time. When you come in for the middle of the season you keep the team going as it is. You would have seen the real influence of Hiddink this year."

Wenger is well aware of Chelsea's strengths ahead of Sunday's big London derby but he would prefer to focus on his own team and their undoubted qualities.

"Chelsea have always been a strong team and, at the moment, they are top," said the manager. "But I have also watched again the Manchester United game [which Chelsea won 1-0], and they were quite lucky.

"I do not want to come out too much on Chelsea. You know they are a good side and to beat them, you have to deliver a good performance. But it is more important we focus on what we do than any strength or weakness of Chelsea.

"Let's expect them to be strong on the day, and let us be stronger. They are a strong side and have a good manager in Carlo Ancelotti. But I still believe that despite all that, we can still beat them."

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27 Nov 2009