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Rafa says Chelsea players ‘convinced’ of beating Arsenal and Spurs to top three finish

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez before the game. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez before the game. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
8:25 AM

Rafael Benitez says his Chelsea players believe they will finish in the top three of the Premier League but accepts that if they are to hold off a late challenge from Arsenal or aim to overtake Tottenham, then consistency will be key.

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Chelsea have dropped 13 points out of 24 this year, winning just six of their 15 games in all competitions and tonight they switch focus again with an FA Cup fifth round clash away at Middlesbrough.

That is on the back of a 2-0 Premier League defeat at Manchester City, which saw the Blues slip to fourth in the table - two points ahead of Arsenal - after Spurs’ late win at West Ham on Monday night.

Still in with a chance of seeing out his interim spell in charge with some silverware and securing a Champions League berth, Benitez said: “We have had a lot of very good games this year and we have a very good group of players. If we do the things we have to do, we can win against anyone.

“This team finished sixth last year. We have to fight now for the top three.

“This is a good team with good players. Our target is to finish in the top four, top three. We will see.”

Benitez added: “We have played with quality and the lads are training hard, so it is not a problem.

“I like to talk with them every day, and they are all convinced we would finish in the top three.”

But, for now, the Spaniard he is focused on the job in hand at the Riverside Stadium tonight.

“You are professional and you know, more or less, how things are going here in terms of what happens if you lose or win, but I have to do my job, which is to beat Middlesbrough tomorrow,” Benitez said.

“I will be working hard until the end.

“Me and my staff have been working really hard at 100 per cent to get the right balance and right team on the pitch.

“The players know how hard we are working, that is the main thing.”

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