Rafael Benitez working hard to arrest Chelsea slide

The European champions have slipped well behind United and City in the title race

Rafael Benitez insists Chelsea are working hard to end the poor run of form which has led to questions over whether the Spaniard will complete his spell as interim boss at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have three wins from their last 10 matches and are without a victory in four ahead of tomorrow's Premier League clash with Wigan, with their latest slip coming in a 3-2 defeat against Newcastle last weekend.

It is hard to tell whether owner Roman Abramovich is losing patience with Benitez, who replaced Roberto Di Matteo in November, but never in his 10-year tenure has the Russian had three managers in the same campaign.

The Blues would slip to fourth ahead of kick-off against Wigan if Tottenham beat Newcastle in tomorrow's lunchtime match.

"We know the problems and we are working on the solutions," said Benitez, when asked if he expected to see out his short-term deal until the end of the season.

"The main thing is that you can score two goals, and then you are 2-0 up at half-time, then you have to finish the games.

"Against Newcastle we scored two goals, you cannot make these mistakes (to concede three). You have to make sure we control the game.

"We could have won all the games we didn't win. It's a question of sometimes doing the right things at the right moment, having a little bit of luck, being more clinical, not making mistakes in defence.

"The team is doing well in terms of the performance and we have to improve the results, especially the games we were winning."

Chelsea will be expected to defeat a Wigan side battling relegation, but Benitez will guard against complacency.

"All teams are difficult to beat," he added.

"Wigan have won more points away, so we know there's no room for complacency.

"We have to sure that we do the right things from the first minute to the last minute."

Should Benitez survive the Wigan contest, he will take Chelsea to the Czech Republic for a Europa League clash with Sparta Prague before an FA Cup fourth-round replay with Brentford.

"Every week is important for us, not just this one," he added.

"We have to do our best in every game. This one, against Wigan, will be important too.

"Every game will be important until the end of the season."

Benitez will be without captain John Terry for the Wigan clash.

"John Terry has an inflammation with his knee," Benitez said. "A set-back, but not serious. He will not be available for tomorrow."

David Luiz is fit again and Eden Hazard is available following his three-match ban following his controversial sending-off at Swansea, when clashed with a ball boy.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech (finger) and Demba Ba (broken nose) are expected to be passed fit, the striker having been fitted with a protective face mask.

Ba is ineligible for the trip to Prague, meaning he could play against Wigan, with Fernando Torres, who was not on international duty with Spain this week, saved for Europe.

Ashley Cole won his 100th international cap on Wednesday as England beat Brazil 2-1, with Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard scoring the decisive goal.

Benitez was impressed with Lampard but unable to shed any fresh light on the midfielder's future.

"England did well, Lampard did really well scoring the goal," Benitez said.

"I don't try to avoid the issue. I was very clear in the past and I will be very clear now and in the future: Frank is doing a great job for us, he's scoring goals, he's playing well, he's a good professional, he's very working hard. That's all I can say, because I am the coach.

"The other issues (speculation), the club doesn't discuss these things."

Lampard is five behind the Blues' goalscoring record of 202 held by Bobby Tambling and has showed his value to Chelsea on a number of occasions this season.

"The situation for me as a coach is the same," Benitez added.

"He is playing well, scoring goals, and hopefully he can score goals in every game, he will break the record and I'll be really pleased."

PA

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