Benitez taking Brentford clash seriously

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez will not underestimate Brentford and vows to send out a strong line-up for their clash in the FA Cup fourth-round replay.

Rafa Benitez


The Blues nearly crashed out of the FA Cup to a plucky Brentford side last month and needed a late Fernando Torres goal to keep their FA Cup hopes alive as Benitez' men forced a replay of the tie following their 2-2 draw.

Despite Chelsea's midweek exertions in the Europa League, Benitez insists he will not look to rest many of his first-team players against the Bees and declared his intention to go all the way to win the FA Cup.

"We will choose a strong team because we want to progress," Benitez was quoted as saying by the official Chelsea website. 

"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 [1-0 win over Sparta Prague], 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."

Benitez also expressed his delight at having several key players available for selection.

"Now players can compete for positions and it's good for us," Benitez added. 

"To improve the competition between good players is good for the team.

"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.

"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.

Benitez also believes that the positive vibes which Mikel and Moses brought back from their success with Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations will be beneficial to the team.

"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," Benitez mused.

"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.

"I am really pleased for both of them, and to be so influential is a great achievement for Victor."

One of the negatives for Chelsea in their win over Sparta on Thursday was their profligacy in front of goal, and Benitez has sought to remedy this with extra finishing practice.

"We have been practising finishing today [Friday]," Benitez revealed. 

"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 be without long-term absentees striker Farid El-Alagui (knee) and midfielder Kevin O'Connor (ankle) for the clash.

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