Rafa: Changes are necessary

Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez will make a number of changes for Sunday's important Premier League clash against reigning champions Manchester City.

Last Updated: 22/02/13 at 15:24 Post Comment

Rafael Benitez: Making full use of his big Chelsea squad

Rafael Benitez: Making full use of his big Chelsea squad

The Blues are in the midst of a heavy run of fixtures and travel north to the Etihad Stadium just three days after edging through to the last 16 of the Europa League thanks to a last-gasp goal by Eden Hazard at Stamford Bridge.

Frank Lampard and cup-tied Demba Ba did not face Sparta Prague on Thursday while Ashley Cole remained on the bench and all three are expected to start this weekend.

And Benitez said: "We have played around nine games a month, so we have played more games than anyone in Europe.

"But we knew that before the game (against Sparta) so I rested some players so hopefully the players we use will be fine and we can keep the energy.

"When you play two games a week in two different competitions and you rest a few players and you win they will say 'Fantastic rotation' but if you lose they say 'Why are you resting these players'.

"We will change some of them against City, that is very clear because we have to do it and that is the way if you are a top side.

"Because the club is successful that is part of the price you have to pay and we are really pleased to be paying this price."

The Blues travel north in search of three points that would move them to within one of second place Manchester City.

Benitez believes Sunday's meeting can be a guide to his side's targets for the season, with the Chelsea boss confident his players have enough to claim all three points and set their sights on finishing in the top two.

"We have a lot of respect because City is a great team," Benitez said. "But we have to go there with confidence and if we are close I think that we can fight for being in the top two, and if not we have to fight for being in the top four.

"The priority is to win; if we win this game we will be closer but if we cannot we have to keep fighting.

"What I can see now is a team with confidence, we are confident we can beat City or anyone if we do things in the right way.

"We are creating chances in every game so I'm confident we can do it."

With Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham also having designs on qualifying for the Champions League next season, the race for the top four is likely to be a long one and Benitez admits he envisages the battle going right down to the wire.

"The race for the top four will go on until the end of the season," he said.

"Our last game is against Everton so I'm sure that, until the end of the season, we will be winning games or losing games or whatever but it will be very tight, very close.

"I think that one game can make a big difference so until the end it will be difficult for everyone."

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

S

terling needs to be told though that upon entering the Arsenal squad he will re-enact the final scene from Highlander where he will be thrown around a warehouse by cartoon dragons and then be a mere mortal that will only ever spend three to four weeks a season playing football and the rest on the physio's bed. There can be only one.....player available at The Emirates.

rodger's gusset
Arsenal interest in Sterling

T

he game changed in our favour when Carrick came on. We were able to play further up the pitch due to having a player who can give and go with the ball and keep possession. Yet barkley made some runs and Townsend scored a good goal but carrick's inclusion and chiellini's withdrawal made the biggest difference to the flow of the game

ricky villa
Hodgson: Barkley was brilliant

N

o, you've not silenced anyone Andros, i'm afraid. We know you can score a great goal, and it's really handy to have your direct running and willingness to shoot on the bench. But until you can do the other things expected of a winger (beat the man, put a decent cross in, stay wide etc) then you can't expect more than a regular cameo. Wonderful goal though, what a hit! No wonder Buffon wanted the shirt.

badwolf
Townsend: I've silenced critics

Footer 365

Raheem Sterling will not resume Liverpool contract talks until the summer

Raheem Sterling has confirmed that he will not resume talks over a new contract with Liverpool until the summer.

Celtic manager Ronny Deila keen on new loan for Jason Denayer

Celtic manager Ronny Deila will try to persuade Jason Denayer and Manchester City to extend the centre-back's loan.

De Gea: United 'cannot' fail

David De Gea says that Manchester United must qualify for the Champions League next season "no matter what".

Mail Box

Is This The End Of Ex-Players As Managers?

Do massive wages and cushty TV numbers signal the end of the ex-high-profile player turned manager? Plus Liverpool fans don't actually say the 'next year' thing...

A Solution For The Premier League's 39th Game...

One morning Mailboxer solves the 39th game conundrum. Plus England were actually alright, Harry Kane is rubbish again and do Arsenal have the most embarrassing fans?

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company