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Rafa: Three points, stats the key

17 Apr 2013 07:17:20

Rafa: Three points, stats the key

Rafael Benitez normally likes statistics, but the Chelsea interim boss has had no time for numbers ahead of tonight's west London derby at Fulham where three Barclays Premier League points is all that matters.

Chelsea are bidding to consolidate their place in the top four and a Champions League qualifying spot by winning their game in-hand over Tottenham.

Benitez said: "I haven't wasted any second thinking about how many (points) we need. It's just the next three points. I'm just thinking about the next game. I don't waste time when you have so many games. You cannot be doing numbers all the time. It depends on the other teams."

Spurs and Chelsea play at Stamford Bridge on May 8 in what could effectively be a Champions League play-off.

But Benitez, who takes Chelsea to his former club Liverpool in another key game on Sunday, anticipates the race to the top four will continue until the final day of the campaign.

He said: "Hopefully we can be there. I don't know who will be with us. The league will go until the end of the season. Hopefully I am wrong and we will be qualified before (then), but I think it will be until the end of the season."

Experience is key at this stage of the season, and Benitez added: "The head makes the difference. At the end of the season it's more important to be strong mentally and approach every game with the belief you can win."

Chelsea have players with the requisite experience. Frank Lampard and captain John Terry are expected to return at Craven Cottage, having been unused substitutes in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final loss to Manchester City.

Midfielder Lampard could be in the final months of his Chelsea career, with his contract expiring and the prospects of an extension uncertain, and is three short of overtaking Bobby Tambling as the club's record goalscorer.

"The main thing is the team," said Benitez of Lampard, who last scored against West Ham. "I would like to see Frank breaking the record, for sure. (But) if I pick him it's because I think that he's a good player. I'm sure he can score goals. Hopefully he can score more than two and then he will break the record."


PA

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