Sport Soccer

Saturday 20 September 2014

Benitez focused on claiming second place

Published 23/02/2013 | 10:31

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Rafael Benitez feels it will be 'difficult' to overtake Manchester United in the title race

Chelsea will fight to finish as high as they can in the Barclays Premier League but interim manager Rafael Benitez has conceded Manchester United look set to win a 20th league crown.

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The Blues travel to second-placed Manchester City on Sunday knowing a win will close the gap on the reigning champions to a single point. However, United are currently a massive 16 points clear of Chelsea - and 12 above City - and Benitez concedes it will be "difficult" for anyone to catch the league leaders

"To finish as high as possible is a challenge," he said. "So we'll try to finish second if we can, you never know - this is a massive game, so let's see where we are at the end. Until the last week, we may be fighting each other."

Benitez added: "My idea is to think about this one, because it will make the difference. If you are closer to City, you have to chase the second position. The other one (winning the league), it depends on United. If they don't lose games and drop points it'll be difficult. We just have to concentrate on us."

Goalkeeper Petr Cech echoed his manager's comments and believes City are struggling with the heightened expectations of being the defending champions.

"Second place is more than possible for us, we just need to have a good run of results," he said. "To win the league I think we are maybe a little bit too far, it would need a meltdown from Man United but everything is possible.

"They (City) will be at home and need to win if they are going to challenge Manchester United for the title, they can't afford any more slip-ups. It is a new situation for them, there are lots of players in their squad who have never faced the situation of defending a title.

"You can see that they are behind and the pressure is on them and they have to fight with that, it is always easier when you win the first title and is worse when you defend it because you are the team to beat so it becomes tougher."

Benitez is expected to recall Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic for the game at the Etihad Stadium after resting the trio for Thursday night's 1-1 Europa League draw with Sparta Prague.

Captain John Terry played the entire 90 minutes against the Czech outfit and is unlikely to be risked for the whole game at City.

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