Benitez refuses to rule out Chelsea title challenge

Rafael Benitez is not yet ready to concede defeat in the Premier League title race, the Daily Mirror has reported, as the interim Chelsea manager plots a strong second half of the season after his team returns from the Club World Cup in Japan.

Chelsea are currently third in the table, 10 points adrift of Manchester United, who could, if they win their matches while Chelsea are in Japan, be 19 points clear of the Blues before Christmas. Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, has gone so far as to suggest that the title race is already between only two clubs, his and defending champions Manchester City.

Benitez however does not believe a title challenge is out of the equation, pointing to his experience with Valencia in Spain as proof it can happen. Valencia were eight points behind Real Madrid in February but recovered to win the title by the end of the season.

If we can be closer sooner rather than later, much better. Obviously we’ll have our chances if we start winning games,” Benitez said. “I don’t know what [Ferguson] has said and I’m not thinking about it. I’m only thinking of my team. But I’m not worried about the distance. It’s important we win so we are close, but all we can do is think about one game at a time,” he added.

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