BENITEZ: CAPITAL GAINS

Posted on: Fri 18 Jan 2013

The Blues face our second home game in the space of a week when Arsenal make the short trip across the capital on Sunday, and Rafael Benitez is looking for his side to record a win which would extend our lead over the Gunners to 11 points...

On squad news
Benitez was pleased to report we have no fresh injury concerns ahead of Sunday's game, but he stated that a decision on whether or not John Terry makes his first start since November will not be taken until after tomorrow's training session.

'We haven't decided because the training pitch today wasn't in the best condition,' said the Blues manager. 'The session was a bit different so we will see tomorrow.

'He was training with the team and he was fine. There was no problem so we will see after tomorrow's session.

'It's important to have players with character on the pitch, especially if you want to manage the game well. We are working very hard with John and will see how he feels.'

On facing Arsenal
Our inconsistent home form, coupled with the fact Arsenal are yet to record a league win in 2013, means both sides go into the game desperate for three points.

Benitez acknowledged the quality in Arsene Wenger's side, but feels it may play into our own hands.

'They are close and if we win we will have a big difference, but there are still a lot of games and a lot of points to play for. We need to carry on winning games, this is an important one, but I'm sure there will be many more between now and the end of the season.

'We need to keep calm, try to go forward in the right way and not give any hope to the other team. Arsenal are a top team, but they will not play with 11 men behind the ball and stay on the edge of their box, it will be a different kind of game.'

On the midweek draw with Southampton and our home form
There is little doubt that Wednesday's 2-2 draw against Southampton, after leading 2-0 at the break, will be seen as two points dropped, and Benitez felt we paid the price for not killing the game off.

'We scored the goals but should have scored a third to finish the game,' he said. 'We have to be more clinical and take our chances, as well as defending as a unit and not giving them hope they can score.

'The team is scoring a lot of goals, we expect to score, but we have to manage the advantage in a better way.

'We have to keep winning games if we can and that's the way to move forward. It always helps to win, we have to win together and if we do I'm sure the fans will be happy.'

On our striking options
Demba Ba was given the nod for the second successive game in midweek, and repaid the faith shown in him by Benitez with his third goal for the club.

However, with such a hectic fixture schedule, the need for squad rotation is paramount, and the Spaniard could look to freshen things up against Arsenal.

He believes, however, that both Ba and Torres, as they did in the final 10 minutes of Wednesday's game, can play together.

'Fernando was doing well when I arrived, little by little he was improving and scoring goals, but you have to look at the bigger picture,' said Benitez. 'Why did we sign Demba Ba? We wanted two options and to rest Torres who was playing too many games so couldn't be at his best level.

'Long term it will be much better because we will have both and Torres will be rested and have more energy. It will be good for him and the team. I'm sure Fernando will go back to his level and do well.

'You have to manage the squad. When you have players like [Juan] Mata, Oscar and [Eden] Hazard, who can make a difference behind the striker. You have to change the shape of the team if you play with two strikers.

'It depends on the movements of the strikers and the understanding of the game. Ba was playing as a second striker at Newcastle, and Torres played as a winger the other night.'

On the sacking of Southampton's Nigel Adkins
Adkins earned plenty of plaudits in midweek after his side's second-half comeback at the Bridge, and his dismissal earlier today came as a shock to Benitez.

'I was really surprised,' said the Spaniard. 'He was doing a great job. At the start he had some problems but they have been doing well recently.'