BENITEZ: ON THE UP

Posted on: Fri 15 Feb 2013

Rafael Benitez will welcome back four players into his squad for Sunday's game against Brentford at Stamford Bridge, and promises a strong line-up as we pursue a place in the last 16 of the FA Cup.

Suspension and ineligibility meant David Luiz and Demba Ba were left behind in London for our Europa League win in Prague on Thursday night, while African champions John Mikel Obi and Victor Moses are available once more after victory with Nigeria on Sunday.

'I am really pleased because we have John Mikel Obi and Victor Moses coming back from South Africa, and they are happy and training well,' Benitez reported. 'We have another session so that won't be a problem and they will be available for Brentford.

'Obviously Demba Ba and David Luiz were not available for the Europa League, but they are fine and it's good news. Apart from Oriol Romeu everyone is fine and available.

'We will choose a strong team because we want to progress. Now players can compete for positions and it's good for us. To improve the competition between good players is good for the team.'

Benitez was particularly pleased for the Nigerian pair, who he believes will come back with added confidence after claiming a major international honour.

'It's important to have happy and confident players around, so it's good for the team that they won and they've brought that confidence and belief back with them.

'Both of them progressed as individuals through the tournament. Obi has more experience and you could expect good performances from him, but Victor was coming through and I could see he has been growing and improving,' the Spaniard said. 'I am really pleased for both of them, and to be so influential is a great achievement for Victor.'

Speaking after Thursday's narrow win, Benitez suggested we need to be more clinical in attack. Today he explained a little more behind his thinking.

'We have been practising finishing today,' he said. 'We had three or four counter-attacks where we could do better so we have to watch and practice and hopefully we will improve. Defensively a clean sheet was positive, and in attack I thought two or three chances could be different in other games.

'Brentford will try to be compact and counter-attack, and we are favourites and will try to do a professional job.

'It will be different from Thursday, where we played away against a team that liked to run between and behind defenders. Against Brentford we have to sustain attacks and get on top of them.'