BENITEZ: SET FOR STOKE
Rafael Benitez is hoping another impressive away showing will bring all three points at Stoke on Saturday afternoon.
We are in fine form away from Stamford Bridge with wins at Leeds, Norwich, Everton and Southampton since the Christmas period began, while on home soil we have stuttered with consecutive defeats against QPR and Swansea.
Benitez, however, does not believe the team takes any extra freedoms from playing on the road, and had chances been taken, things could be very different in SW6.
'In the last game of the [Champions League] group stage it was a fantastic game and everyone was happy, Aston Villa was exactly the same, and the fans enjoyed it,' Benitez said. 'The players will enjoy it in the same way as we played these games. QPR and Swansea we could have scored three in the first half and everything would be different.
'If we start the games playing well and scoring an early goal it will be easier for us. The fans are pushing and pushing and the players want to win. We just have to manage the situation and understand the way to win, doing things in certain ways.
'If you analyse the chances we had at home, we had a lot. The other teams play deeper and it is more difficult to create more chances but I am comfortable at home and away because I am confident we can score goals.
'Stoke will be a tough game. They are is a very good team. I have a good relationship with Tony Pulis, I spoke with him a lot of times and he is doing a great job. Each club decides how they want to play. For me it is a challenge, to think about how to prepare the game and to analyse different things. It's different from Spain, where you don't have these kinds of teams, and here is another approach so you have to adapt.
'Obviously each game is different and you have to prepare in a different way from Arsenal. You know this and you have to adapt. If they challenge in the air you have to play on the floor. Mata will not win against Crouch in the air but he can go between his legs, another way.'
The news that Petr Cech and John Terry are back in contention for involvement will be a major spur, though the Spaniard admits the captain must be patient as he bids to return after two months out, having come through Thursday's Under-21 fixture against Fulham unscathed.
'I was talking with him at the end of the game and could read his interview. I spoke to him on Friday before training and he knows he will need some time but the good thing is he is available and ready and that's very positive.
'Any player that can play in that position and have another competing for his place will be really pleased because it means the team can be better. If they are competing they will give the best in every training session, and it will be good for Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, David Luiz and John Terry.'
Benitez also discussed the mood of Ivanovic, whose errors on Wednesday allowed Swansea to steal a Capital One Cup advantage. The manager reports a model professional back in the right frame of mind.
'The first thing I did the other day was say I'm not worried about a player making a mistake,' Benitez explained.. 'I'm really pleased with him, he is a fantastic player. He knows he made mistakes but he was trying to do his best and is fine.
'He is quite emotional and when he is making mistakes it affects him, but my point was to tell him I will not be blaming him. We have to analyse for the future but that's it. He is doing his best, training well and I am really pleased working with him.
'Everything for him is really important. This is a positive but sometimes a danger because if you make a mistake you have to manage the expectations and have some balance. The other day he was really disappointed. He said sorry but when you try to do your best and make a mistake you don't need to say sorry. He is a great person too, not just a great professional and has passion for everything.'