Rafael Benitez refuses to dismiss Chelsea's hopes of winning the Premier League title - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Rafael Benitez refuses to dismiss Chelsea's hopes of winning the Premier League title

 

Rafael Benitez is refusing to dismiss Chelsea's hopes of winning the Barclays Premier League title despite the sizeable gap between themselves and leaders Manchester United.

Chelsea moved into third place following Sunday's 8-0 demolition of Aston Villa and have now won five of their last six games in all competitions ahead of their Boxing Day trip to Norwich.

The Blues ran riot at Stamford Bridge with seven different players getting on the scoresheet - a Premier League first - and it would have been more but for a missed Lucas Piazon penalty.

The win came on the back of a convincing 5-1 win over rivals Leeds in the Capital One Cup and went some way to quietening the boos directed towards Benitez, with the furore over his appointment starting to die down.

Chelsea are still some way behind United in the title race, trailing by 11 points, but Benitez is not ruling anything out.

Asked if he will tell his players they can still win the league, Benitez said: "We will see after two or three more games.

"You could see the team had confidence in themselves, they believed, and that was there to the end.

"They had good movements, created chances. Now we have to sustain this run and it will be easier for me to say we can compete."

The Spaniard, who has been an unpopular figure at Stamford Bridge since he was brought in as interim manager on November 21, seems to have revitalised Blues frontman Fernando Torres - who he also managed at Liverpool - with the striker scoring seven times in his last six games.

"The players were really focused from day one," Benitez said.

"They knew they had a new manager and they had to perform.

"The players, from day one, were trying to learn, to improve and they were keen to learn."

Another player who looks to be developing under the leadership of Spaniard is David Luiz, who has been switched from defence into central midfield - a decision which saw the Brazilian produce a nonchalant but vibrant display against Villa.

Capped off with a spectacular goal from a technically difficult free-kick, the re-deployment of Luiz looks to be a triumph for Benitez in reshaping Chelsea's attack in a position where they have sometimes struggled to fully impose themselves.

Benitez confirmed the 25-year-old could find himself playing further up the pitch on a more regular basis following yesterday's performance.

He said: "We will analyse it carefully. Maybe, if he can relax, he can play more games in this position because it's easier for him to rest here."

Frank Lampard, who made his 500th Premier League start against Villa and became the Blues' all-time top scorer thanks to his second-half strike, hailed Luiz's talent and thinks he can be a success in both defence and midfield.

Lampard told ChelseaFC.com: "He has the ability to play either position and he has been a fantastic defender at this club.

"People say that central midfield is also a role for him and I think they are right.

"You still have to have discipline and be in the right position and you can't take liberties, and against Villa he showed that he has the discipline and the ability to do that role."

However, there is still some bad news for Chelsea, as the return date for injured club captain John Terry is still to be confirmed as he recovers from a knee injury.

Terry was originally aiming to be fit to for the Club World Cup earlier this month but setbacks have seen him remain on the sidelines.

Benitez said: "Two days ago it was one little step backwards, but now one step forwards. We cannot say when he'll be available.

"The doctors say it's difficult with an inflammation. The next two or three days, he won't be available, that is clear. He just did the warm-up with the team the other day. I don't know how long (he will be out)."

PA

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week