Rafael Benitez is primed for his first return to Liverpool since his six-year spell as manager ended.
The Spaniard has remained close to the club with whom he won the Champions League. Although he knows a Chelsea victory at Anfield is essential on Sunday, he knows that it is the home fans, rather than the away ones, who will be cheering loudest report The Evening Standard.
“Liverpool is where my family live now,” he said. “I have been there for six years and have very good memories.
“I cannot hide that I am really pleased to be going there to see a lot of old friends. I have not been thinking too much about Sunday.
“The main thing is to stay in the top three and what I want is to win at Liverpool. And after, I wish them all the best and if they can win all their games until the end of the season, that will be fantastic.
“But as a professional, I am sure they will try to win and we will try to win.”
Last night’s victory saw Chelsea leapfrog Arsenal into third place and Benitez believes his players can cope with the demanding fixtures ahead as they bid for a return to the Champions League.
He said: “They are difficult matches but we have quality. If you ask them [Chelsea’s opponents] they will say it’s a difficult match because they are playing Chelsea.
“We must have confidence and belief and hopefully we can stay up there. The race for the top four will be until the end of the season.
“If we continue winning and they [Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton] keep on winning, those games against Tottenham and Everton will be even more important.”
Benitez knows that, regardless of whether he guides Chelsea to Europa League glory, he will be heading for the exit door.
Jose Mourinho remains Chelsea’s first-choice replacement, despite reports in Spain claiming the
Blues have held talks with the representative of Malaga, coach Manuel Pellegrini.
Sources close to Mourinho are growing even more optimistic he will return to Stamford Bridge.
Pellegrini remains on Chelsea’s shortlist in case negotiations with Mourinho break down.
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