- Premier League
Benitez: Chelsea will catch United and City
Rafael Benitez believes Chelsea have what it takes to overhaul the Manchester giants to claim an improbable Premier League title triumph this season.
Chelsea could be a massive 16 points behind Manchester United by the time they return to domestic action against Aston Villa next weekend, but a bullish Benitez is predicting a resurgence from his side in the second half of the season.
Benitez's gaze is currently fixed on his FIFA World Club Cup final date with Brazilian side Corinthians in Japan on Sunday, but he is convinced the Chelsea of old are ready to emerge from their shell when they return to England.
"I've been asked if it's a two-horse race now and I know that people want to create that story, but it's not like that," Benitez said.
"Neither United nor City look unbeatable and no team is going to run away with the championship, so if you win two of three games in a row, then you will have more confidence.
"If we win here and play like we did against Monterrey in the semi-final of this competition, this team can go on to win games in a row easily. How many? I don't know, but if you win three or four in a row, confidence will be so high.
"I will be able to see if I can do it here after our Premier League match against Aston Villa (next Sunday). If we can do against Villa what we have done here, play at the same level, it will start building that confidence."
Benitez speaks from experience as his Valencia side overcame huge odds and a massive points deficit to claim Spanish title glory eight years ago, and he will use that example to inspire his players once their commitments in Japan are over.
"At Valencia we were well behind, eight points down in January or February, but I told the players that they would go on to win the league," he said. "The way we trained was key and, with the way we train here, I'm confident we will be better and better every single week.
"At the moment, I do not have that time to work with the team as much as I would like. Every session I can just do possession and the idea of keeping tempo, but if we have a week it will make a massive difference.
"Three hard sessions to adjust things and you will see a difference. Already this team plays better, especially the defence."