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Premier League

Rafael Benitez praises 'resourceful' former rivals Everton


Rafael Benitez is bracing himself for a hot reception at Everton despite refusing to repeat his small-club jibe ahead of his first match on Merseyside as Chelsea manager.

Benitez will take a team to Goodison Park tomorrow for the first time in more than three years but the passage of time is unlikely to spare him the role of pantomime villain.

In 2007, then-Liverpool manager Benitez branded Everton one of the Premier League's "smaller teams".

Everton fans devised plenty of unpleasant chants about Benitez during his six years at Anfield and he said: "The main thing for me is that my players do their job."

Quizzed about his small-club jibe ahead of tomorrow's game, Benitez joked: "You have a good memory."

He added of Everton: "I think they are doing a good job, they have less resources than other teams and are still competing."