Saturday 16 December 2017

Chelsea 'showing signs' after mauling of Villans

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Chelsea's biggest win for nearly three years was not enough to convince Rafael Benitez that his players have no room for improvement. After the 8-0 crushing of Aston Villa, the Blues' interim manager was already pondering the next step up.

"Yes, I have my notes here," the Spaniard said when asked if he could find faults. "I can guarantee we can still improve little things. And I say that after winning by eight."

Chelsea moved up to third place, seven points behind Manchester City with one game in hand. But Benitez said that his team were not yet back in the title race.

"We will see after two or three more games," he said. "You could see the team had confidence in themselves, they believed, and that was there to the end. They had good movement and created chances. Now we have to sustain this run."

Benitez declared that he saw signs the team was starting to adapt to his instructions. "The main thing is to see the team progressing and improving," he said. "We try to adjust the little things in every training session, so this was very positive. The team, as a team, is attacking and not depending upon one or two players."

Frank Lampard scored on his 500th Premier League start and heard the fans singing that the board should offer him a new contract. In his final year and yet to be offered a new deal, Lampard admitted he did not know if he could change the club's mind.

"I'm not concentrating that far (into the future), as I'm under contract here and I love playing here, so I'm going to continue game by game and just be pleased to be fit. I believe I still have a lot in me. The club's position is its position, I don't want to get too deep into that."

Villa's manager, Paul Lambert, said his young team will just have to get over the pain of this defeat before their busy Christmas schedule. Villa host Tottenham on St Stephen's Day and Wigan on Saturday before travelling to Swansea on New Year's Day. Villa are fifth from bottom, three points clear of 18th-placed Wigan.

"We'll have to pick ourselves up and go again on Wednesday, hurt as we are," Lambert said. "Nothing really surprises me in football. I've been in it long enough to know you have to be bang at it every single game, but we were well below our standard of late.

"We'll go back to the training ground, train tomorrow and Tuesday, and go again. You go into every game thinking you can win.

"Sometimes getting beaten tells you a lot about people. It's a heavy beating, but I can't allow one defeat to mask over what's happened of late. I don't get too high when I win, so we'll pick ourselves up and go again. We weren't at the races in certain aspects of the game." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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