BENITEZ: PERFECT TEST
Rafael Benitez hopes tomorrow's clash with Arsenal may bring the best out of his side following the frustration of the midweek draw with Southampton.
Arsene Wenger brings his side across town for a lunchtime showdown at Stamford Bridge, and rather than be fearful of our opponents, Benitez is looking forward to the test.
'It's always important to have a big challenge in front of you,' he said. 'That means everybody will be focused. To be playing Arsenal is a good thing for everyone.
'We know they are a rival, we know they are a top side who are close to us and we cannot lose our focus.
'The style of football they play was going well last year. They are quite good tactically when they they play against the top sides. It will not be a very open game with both teams attacking.'
With the Gunners having not won a trophy since an FA Cup success back in 2005, Wenger has - rightly or wrongly - come in for some criticism from sections of his own supporters.
Benitez, though, believes the abuse is unjustified, and spoke in glowing terms of the Frenchman's managerial talents.
'I have a good relationship with him,' said the Blues boss. ' He's one of the best, if not the best, manager to manage in England for many years.
'His ideas and the way they do things is a very good way. He has won a lot and that's the reason why.
'Each manager and each situation is different. When he first arrived they did well, the style of football was good and the fans were happy. Now, some people talk about them not winning trophies, but he's a great manager with great experience, and he deserves a lot of credit.'
Stamford Bridge has been something of a fortress in recent years, but with the Blues having not won in our past three home games, opposition teams may head to SW6 at present with the belief they can take something from the game.
By contrast, our form on the road has been magnificent, with six successive victories, and Benitez is now looking for his players to transform the quality we have shown away from home back to more familiar surroundings.
'Away at West Ham we didn't expect that second half performance after the fantastic first half we had, and we learnt from that,' he explained.
'At Stoke City and Southampton we showed great character. When we played Everton, who were in great form, they scored early and again we showed character to win the game, so the team is learning and improving, but at home we have to manage the games in a different way.'