Ancelotti happy with share of spoils

The Blues were held to a Premier League stalemate after Nicolas Anelka headed against the woodwork in the closing seconds and they have now only won once at Villa Park in their last 12 visits.

But Ancelotti was happy with the way his team responded to the absence of key players such as Didier Drogba, Alex, Salomon Kalou and Frank Lampard.

He said: "We didn't start so well and gave Villa a couple of good chances, but in the second half we played very well.

"We did everything to try and score. The way we played in the second half we deserved to win, but Villa did well in the first half, so a draw is fair.

"I am not disappointed about failing to go seven points clear. We knew this would be a difficult game.

"Last year we lost here. This is a good result at this stage of the season, and to be five points clear is good.

"I'm not going to complain about the injured players because the ones who came in today did well."

Ancelotti was full of praise for youngster Josh McEachran who was introduced as a second-half substitute.

He said: "Josh is a very good player. He has a fantastic personality as well. He is very young, but is a player who is ready to play for us."

Ancelotti also expects Kalou, Alex and Daniel Sturridge all to be available for Tuesday's Champions League clash away to Spartak Moscow, but Drogba will still be missing after suffering from a fever.

Villa boss Gerard Houllier was also content after suffering three late withdrawals in Emile Heskey (back), Luke Young (hamstring) and Marc Albrighton (illness).

He was forced to bring in John Carew, Stephen Ireland and Habib Beye as their replacements, and they all performed well.

Houllier said: "The only thing missing from a good game was goals. It was football played at a great pace between two good sides.

"We had the better chances in the first half, but we were under the cosh in the second half before coming back at the end.

"We had to make late changes, but I want to pay homage to the players who filled in and the way they responded. They showed great attitude and a great spirit."

In addition, Villa's central defender Richard Dunne had to be substituted after only 15 minutes with an ankle problem, but his replacement Ciaran Clark also performed creditably.

Houllier said: "Richard needed four stitches in his ankle. He wanted to come back, but I said we couldn't wait for 10 minutes and play with 10 men, so I brought on Clark, who also did well."

Source: Team Talk