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18 July 2024

Benitez calls for united Chelsea front


Rafael Benitez has called on Chelsea to assemble a winning run and prove to the doubters that everything is going well at the club after his side swept past Stoke City 4-0.

Blues supporters are still not onside with the Spaniard, who replaced Roberto Di Matteo as manager in November, and he felt the heat again at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday when they lost to Swansea in their League Cup semi-final first leg.

However, they bounced back in style on Saturday to end Stoke's 11-month unbeaten home record thanks to two own goals from Jon Walters, a Frank Lampard penalty, and a stunning strike from Eden Hazard.

Now Benitez wants his side to put a run together and see if they can close the 11-point gap that currently separates them from Premier League leaders Manchester United.

"You have to realise, and it is difficult if you are not watching the training, the team is doing well," he said.

"The players are happy. The players are training well and try to perform.

"The atmosphere inside (the club) is great. We cannot control what is going on outside the pitch. We will try to do our best on the pitch and hopefully it will be easier.

"I think we have to approach every game as a challenge and try to win our games and see where that leaves us.

"The Premier League is a difficult competition and we have to just think about the next three points and see where we are in the table.

"Crisis is not the case. We are scoring more goals than in the past. We are conceding half the goals that the team was in the past and that means there is more balance to sustain the performance at this level."

The interim Chelsea manager also insisted that Demba Ba and Fernando Torres can play together after the former replaced the Spaniard as a lone striker at the Britannia Stadium.

"It will be another option to me. We have two very good players. We are doing well with one up front, but we can use both if necessary," he said.

Chelsea took the lead just before the break when Cesar Azpilicueta crossed and Walters put a diving header into his own goal.

Walters then made it 2-0 to the visitors in the 62nd minute, this time heading a Juan Mata corner past Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

Just three minutes later, Lampard ended Stoke's slim hopes of getting back into the game when he fired home a penalty after Robert Huth was adjudged by referee Andre Marriner to have brought Mata down.

Hazard struck a stunning 73rd-minute effort home from 25 yards to complete the rout before Walters had another reason to feel sorry for himself.

John Terry, who made his return from a two-month lay-off as a second-half substitute, brought down the Stoke striker in the area but the Ireland international fired the ensuing penalty off the bar and into the stand.

However, manager Tony Pulis predicted that his player will bounce back.

"Jon is alright, we look after people at the club," he said.

"It was not our day, it was Chelsea's. Fair play to Chelsea, but to get beat 4-0 is very hard to take because I don't think our lads deserve to be on the back of that defeat.

"We are disappointed. The second goal kills us. I think it was a soft penalty, but obviously Jon has scored two own goals and (there was) a cracker from Hazard."