LONDON, England, December 25 – Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez said on Tuesday he hadn’t given up hope of overhauling Manchester United’s 11 point lead in the English Premier League and winning the title.
The 52-year-old Spaniard – who has struggled to win over the fans since he replaced Champions League winning manager Roberto di Matteo on November 21 – have won five of their last six games in all competitions and scored 13 goals in their last two.
Benitez, whose side play Norwich away on Wednesday coming in on the back of an astonishing 8-0 humbling of Aston Villa on Sunday, said he would not accept defeat in the title race for a while yet.
“We will see after two or three more games,” said Benitez, who had been out of management for almost two years when Chelsea came calling.
“You could see the team had confidence in themselves, they believed, and that was there to the end.
“They had good movements, created chances. Now we have to sustain this run and it will be easier for me to say we can compete.”
Benitez’s side gave their best performance of the season on Sunday to destroy Aston Villa 8-0 at Stamford Bridge and maintain the momentum from their midweek 5-1 victory against Leeds in the League Cup quarter-finals.
Chelsea fell just one goal short of matching the Premier League’s record margin of victory in an impressive display that saw seven different players find the net against a team who had been unbeaten in six matches.
The goal spree against Villa ensured the west Londoners moved back into third place, 11 points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand.
Now interim manager Benitez expects Chelsea to maintain the form that has seen them score 13 goals in just two outings since losing the Club World Cup final to Brazilian side Corinthians in Japan.