BENITEZ: BRING ON THE BIG MATCH
The arrival of Arsenal this afternoon is, judging by league position, one of the biggest tests for Chelsea since Rafael Benitez began his work at the club - and he is relishing the challenge.
The Blues played league champions Manchester City on our turf in the first match under the Spaniard, and we took on Everton away over Christmas when they, as now, were in fifth place, but any match against Arsenal who currently lie sixth in the table is always a major occasion that requires the players to be on their game.
'It is good, after a draw at home, to have this opportunity now of this top side coming,' says Benitez.
'It is good for us because we have extra motivation and everybody will be really focused. The atmosphere is a little different when you play a big game. If you are in a top side you are really pleased for this type of games, especially if you play for something. We are talking now about a top-four position and see what happens.
'This extra motivation is always good for the managers because the challenge is how can you keep your players motivated every single game and this type of game is easier. You can take one step forward against a top side and the team can prove they are good enough.'
A win in this London derby after three home games without a victory would be an indicator that progress is again being made, and Benitez has reiterated that despite it being widely described as a transition season for this Chelsea side, the aspiration is to win every game and every piece of silverware on offer.
'Obviously we cannot win now the FIFA Club World Cup but we still have some trophies ahead and we will try to win every trophy,' he says.
'In terms of the league, I don't see the table every day and say we can or we cannot, but what I can see is a top side coming this weekend and if we can get three points we will maybe be closer.
'The Capital One Cup is there so we will see, we can do well in the second leg, and the FA Cup and the Europa League are open so I have to improve the team and give the team confidence that we can win against anyone. In football you can lose and you can draw but if you have the belief that you can win against everyone, that is when you start winning games easier.'
Benitez maintains Chelsea were not far from victory in each game that ultimately ended in a draw or a defeat under his management.
'The team is very close to the time when you have confidence you can win games in a row,' he adds.
'We have won some games in a row and we have won some games away but we have to be more consistent. We have had one game every three days, plus Japan, the Africa Cup of Nations and the injuries to John Terry and Frank Lampard, so too many things that don't allow you to have your team and then improve every single thing, but I think we are close.'