Benitez cools title talk as Blues improve

Updated: 2013-01-01 07:53

By Agence France-Presse in Liverpool (China Daily)

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Interim coach Rafael Benitez says Chelsea has no thoughts about a title challenge despite closing on the Manchester clubs after a fourth straight victory.

Benitez's side's 2-1 win at Everton on Sunday moved it to within four points of second-placed Manchester City with a game in hand.

But it remains 11 points adrift of leader Manchester United and despite clear progress being made by the Stamford Bridge club, Benitez maintains it is too soon to consider Chelsea a potential challenger.

"We have a game in hand but we still have to win it," the Spaniard said.

"Our idea is to approach the competition thinking about one game at a time. We are not watching the table too much.

"We are just thinking about the next game and the next three points we will be trying to win. We will see where we are after some more games."

Benitez was an unpopular appointment with the club's fans following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo, who guided Chelsea to the Champions League trophy last season.

But the interim manager feels Chelsea's unsuccessful trip to the Club World Cup in Japan has helped his players to adopt his ideas.

The Blues were beaten in the final by Brazilian outfit Corinthians, but former Liverpool manager Benitez thinks a heavy training schedule has been key to improving performances.

That defeat was the only match Chelsea has not won in its past seven games in all competitions.

Benitez, who refused to comment on reports of a move for Newcastle United striker Demba Ba, said: "There is a process of understanding each other and the players knowing what we want.

"The trip to Japan was important for us because we were together for a long time, training. We had at least two or three sessions where we could work on new things and you can see it working out.

"We are still making some mistakes that we have to manage, but the team is much better.

"What impresses me is the attitude of the players. They are keen to learn and train. Myself and the staff are really pleased with the way they work and train and behave each day, and that is important for the future."

Sunday's other result:

QPR 0 Liverpool 3 (Suarez 10, 16, Agger 28)

(China Daily 01/01/2013 page12)