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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Benitez accepts title hopes are over

Published 20/01/2013 | 09:15

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Rafael Benitez does not believe Chelsea can win the Premier League this season

Rafael Benitez has finally written off Chelsea's chances of winning the Barclays Premier League.

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A run of good form around Christmas had put Chelsea within eight points of Manchester United with a match in hand, but the Blues have plummeted of late, thanks mainly to a dire run of home form. Benitez's team have won just once at Stamford Bridge in the league since he took over seven weeks ago, leaving the Blues some 13 points off the summit.

"In terms of the league I don't think we can do it," Benitez said ahead of Sunday's game against Arsenal.

"But the Capital Cup is there, the FA Cup is still open and the Europa League is still open.

"I just have to give the team the confidence that we can win against anyone. If you have that belief it becomes easier.

"The team is very close. We have (John) Terry and (Frank) Lampard back from injury. Now we have to be more consistent."

Although the title is now out of his reach, Benitez can firm up Chelsea's Champions League ambitions by extending their eight-point lead over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

But having surrendered a two-goal lead against Southampton just seven days after two glaring errors from Branislav Ivanovic gifted Swansea victory in the Capital One Cup, Benitez admits his team must be more disciplined in defence.

"The team are scoring a lot of goals, as we expect them to, but we have to manage this advantage in a better way," said the Chelsea interim boss, who may hand Terry his first start since November.

"We have to be more clinical. We have to defend as a unit, as a team, be more compact, and not give them any hope they can score."

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