OSCAR: TURNING IT AROUND

Four months into his inaugural Premier League season, Oscar has proved an inspired acquisition, and the Brazilian is hopeful that tonight’s game against Fulham can see us build on a credible draw against Manchester City at the weekend.

Interim first team manager Rafael Benitez, who took charge for the first time against the champions on Sunday, will be looking to inspire his side to a first league win since the 4-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur last month, and while recent results have been far from impressive, Oscar, who has featured in all but one league game thus far, is determined to get our campaign back on track.

‘It’s great to play in local derbies,’ he tells the official Chelsea website. ‘It’s another important game, and we’ve had a lot of those in the last few weeks.

‘The draw against Manchester City at the weekend was a positive result, and now I’m hopeful we can follow that up with a win in order to stay near the top of the table. It’s crucial that from this point on we win as many matches as possible.

‘At Chelsea we are expected to win every game. We tried everything in order to get the three points against Manchester City, but it was a very tough game and while we were unfortunate not to get the win, it was important we didn’t lose and managed to keep a clean sheet.’

The two games against Martin Jol’s side last season ended in 1-1 draws, with the Blues having taken the lead on both occasions, and tonight’s encounter promises to be just as tight.

The Cottagers have lost their previous two matches – against Stoke City and Sunderland – but prior to that went five unbeaten, and with an attack-minded set-up designed to get the best out of Dimitar Berbatov, Oscar believes this could be the match where our fortunes change.

‘It’s better for us that they like to attack because it will mean that there should be more spaces for us to exploit,’ he explains.

‘It makes it far more difficult for us when teams just come to Stamford Bridge and have the whole side defending behind the ball, because we have nowhere to go.

‘I hope they come at us, it will make the game more open and hopefully enable us to get a win which we so badly need at the moment, particularly in front of our own supporters.’

BENITEZ: FINE ADJUSTMENTS

Rafael Benitez has outlined two areas he will be working on with Fernando Torres and other squad members to bring about an improvement in performances.

As the interim manager has already stated, more creativity needs to be allied with the solidity seen during Sunday’s game against Manchester City but he also wishes to sharpen the cutting edge. However that means more than just concentrating on Torres.

‘I can guarantee that I have been talking with 15 players for five minutes, 10 minutes, half an hour; it depends on each player,’ Benitez said.

‘Just talking about little things; what in the player’s opinion was wrong, what is right. I have been working with Torres, and with the others.

‘We have to improve some players physically and they will maybe come back to the strength that they had. Torres had very real pace and it is not because he is getting old, or injuries – he has to train in a way that will maybe suit him and we will have find this way. There is some work in the gym, on his strength that maybe he needs to do again.’

The other area the manager is beginning to refine is the movement of the players on the pitch, in many cases small alterations.

‘On Tuesday we were working with Torres and with Oscar and we are trying to find this understanding,’ Benitez said. ‘But it will take some time. We were also working on some little movements for David Luiz, for Ashley Cole, for Eden Hazard and others – we are trying to improve each player a little bit but then we have to put them together.

‘We can talk about the striker but we have to create more chances. If we create more chances and afterwards he is not scoring, I will analyse why. Then we will continue.’

Benitez has also insisted he is not under pressure to mimic Barcelona’s brand of attacking football.

Having overseen his first match in charge on Sunday, the Spaniard believes a fluid, passing game can be achieved with the current squad, but he says what matters most to Roman Abramovich is the team scoring goals and winning games while playing well.

‘We were not talking about playing in Barcelona’s style,’ Benitez reported on conversations with the owner.

‘He knows we don’t have Messi, Iniesta, Xavi – all these players together for years. So he knows that we have to adapt and try to play good football with the players that we have at the moment.’

The acquisition of exciting talent such as Oscar, Eden Hazard and Marko Marin heralded a change in football ideology at Chelsea. Benitez acknowledges this, but is keen to emphasise the importance of a solid defensive foundation.

‘The main thing now is to find a balance. Defensively we will continue working and we will improve because normally defence is easier than attack. In attack we have players with talent; we have players with quality, so we have to find this balance. Defending well and giving the ball to the attacking players to create is our main issue now.

‘We need to give the freedom to perform and play well but at the same time they have to be organised as a team.

‘We were talking for a few days and the owner knows it will take some time to fix everything, but he knows that we can do it.’

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA V FULHAM – PART ONE

28.11.2012

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA V FULHAM – PART ONE

It is once more down to the Bridge for our second home game in four days. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look local…

27.11.2012

JOINT STATEMENT FROM CHELSEA FC, THE PREMIER LEAGUE AND PGMOL

A meeting took place on Monday afternoon at St George’s Park between Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the Premier League and Chelsea Football Club…

27.11.2012

BENITEZ: WORKING HARD

After getting his reign in charge of the Blues off to a solid start at the weekend, Rafael Benitez is confident we can revert back to winning ways against Fulham…

27.11.2012

PAT NEVIN: OPEN EYES, OPEN MIND

In his column this week, Pat Nevin pays tribute to the first Chelsea manager he remembers who passed away at the weekend, and looks at the start of a new tenure at the Bridge…

27.11.2012

LEEDS UNITED TICKET DETAILS ANNOUNCED

The ticket selling arrangements for our Capital One Cup fifth round match against Leeds United have been announced…

27.11.2012

LATEST QPR TICKET DETAILS ANNOUNCED

The latest ticket selling arrangements for our Barclays Premier League game against Queens Park Rangers have been announced…

27.11.2012

SEXTON’S CHELSEA IN PICTURES

A look into the Chelsea picture archive gives a flavour of the club during the time Dave Sexton was in charge…

27.11.2012

VOTE FOR YOUR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE`S CHARITY NOW

The latest Online Charity Poll is going strong as fans vote for which charity they’d like to see holding bucket collections at Stamford Bridge before Christmas.

27.11.2012

CHELSEA TV EXCLUSIVE: CESAR’S SHUTOUT

Cesar Azpilicueta says it was important for defensive morale to have earned a clean sheet against Manchester City on Sunday…

27.11.2012

SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS CHEER AT STAMFORD BRIDGE

Share the Christmas cheer this year by treating that special Chelsea fan to a game at Stamford Bridge.

27.11.2012

PRESS CONFERENCE LIVE THIS AFTERNOON

Chelseafc.com is offering fans the facility to watch Rafael Benitez’s pre-match press conference live on your PC…

26.11.2012

UNDER-21 REPORT: CHELSEA 3 FULHAM 0

Chelsea’s Under-21s made it six games without defeat with a resounding home win against neighbours Fulham on Monday night.

26.11.2012

LAMPARD AND HAZARD NAMED ON FIFA SHORTLIST

The 15 midfielders shortlisted for the FIFA/FIFPro World XI 2012 have been announced, with two Chelsea players represented…

26.11.2012

CHELSEA TV HEADLINES: CAHILL TRAINS

The lunchtime Blues News headlines come from Cobham…

26.11.2012

CECH: SOLID START

Petr Cech believes the first result of the Rafael Benitez reign, a goalless draw with Manchester City, should be seen as a positive given our recent run of form…

26.11.2012

THE DATA DAY: CHELSEA V MANCHESTER CITY

Here we examine the numbers that counted from the weekend’s game, showing improved defensive solidity for the Blues but a lack of cutting edge…

26.11.2012

LATEST QPR TICKET DETAILS ANNOUNCED

The latest ticket selling arrangements for our Barclays Premier League game against Queens Park Rangers have been announced…

26.11.2012

YOUTH GAME POSTPONED

The Under-18 league game against Fulham away, scheduled for Wednesday (28 November), has been postponed…

26.11.2012

RADIO CLIVE’S FIVE: CHELSEA V MAN CITY

Throughout the season former player Clive Walker provides radio and TV commentary on Chelsea’s games…

26.11.2012

MONDAY WRAP

A brief look at some of the weekend football of Chelsea interest away from Stamford Bridge…

26.11.2012

CHELSEA TV EXCLUSIVE: AZPILICUETA ON SHUTTING CITY OUT

Cesar Azpilicueta started Sunday afternoon’s 0-0 draw against Manchester City and spoke to Chelsea TV afterwards…

26.11.2012

MATA BLOGS AGAIN

Juan Mata has filed his latest blog post as he looks back on the games against Manchester City and Juventus and reflects on the change of manager…

JOINT STATEMENT FROM CHELSEA FC, THE PREMIER LEAGUE AND PGMOL

A meeting took place on Monday afternoon at St George’s Park between Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the Premier League and Chelsea Football Club.

PGMOL were represented by General Manager Mike Riley and all 16 Select Group referees, the Premier League by Chief Executive Richard Scudamore and Chelsea FC by Chairman Bruce Buck. This is a joint statement from all parties.

Following the completion of the investigation by The FA into the case involving Chelsea FC and Mark Clattenburg, the Premier League and Chelsea FC requested, and PGMOL agreed, to meet in order to discuss the issues surrounding the reporting of the allegation.

The Select Group appreciated the opportunity to speak to Bruce Buck personally. His willingness to engage and answer all the questions put to him was welcomed.

There was a constructive and open discussion.The club regrets not having given more consideration before issuing a statement on the evening of Sunday 28th October. The club also regrets the subsequent impact the intense media scrutiny had on Mark Clattenburg and his family.

The referees accept that, given Chelsea FC had received a good faith claim from one of their employees, the club had an obligation under FA rules to report the allegation.

There was recognition by all parties that the impartiality and integrity of refereeing in this country remains paramount. Chelsea FC made it clear they would welcome Mark Clattenburg back to Stamford Bridge in the future and PGMOL would have no issue in appointing him to a Chelsea FC match going forward.

It was a thoroughly professional meeting. All parties now believe it is time to draw a line under this incident, learn from it and move on for the good of all Premier League clubs, players and match officials.

BENITEZ: WORKING HARD

After getting his reign in charge of the Blues off to a solid start at the weekend, Rafael Benitez is confident we can revert back to winning ways when we welcome local rivals Fulham to Stamford Bridge tomorrow night.

Squad news
The Blues go into tomorrow night’s game with three players still unavailable due to injury, but Benitez is hopeful the trio will be back in action sooner rather than later.

‘Still [Daniel] Sturridge, [John]Terry and [Frank] Lampard are not available,’ explained the interim first team manager.

‘They are doing well, training with the physios and improving, but we don’t have a fixed date for any of them. The rest of the players are fine, there are a few knocks which I need to check tomorrow but apart from that they are all okay.’

On facing Fulham
Of course, every clash with a local rival is an important fixture, particularly for supporters, but for Benitez, the focus is firmly fixed on securing a first league win for the Blues since the 4-2 victory against Tottenham Hotspur last month.

‘It’s a derby, it’s not the biggest rivalry for us, we respect Fulham but it’s not the biggest derby for the club.’ said the Spaniard.

‘Winning is the most important thing and if we can do it in style that’s even better, but the priority is to do our best, win the game and in terms of the mood it will be a boost for everyone.

‘The mentality and attitude of the players is really good, they don’t appear down at all in training. We are under pressure, they know we have a great responsibility but they are focused on the game.’

On Sunday’s draw with Manchester City
Sunday’s stalemate against Roberto Mancini’s side, taking recent results into consideration, should be seen as a positive.

It was vitally important to keep a clean sheet, and though Benitez was pleased with our defensive performance, he acknowledged that striking the right balance will be imperative in the coming weeks.

‘Obviously we’ve analysed the game,’ he said. ‘The first impression was that against a good team we were strong in defence and earned our first clean sheet since September, so that was quite positive.

‘In terms of possession and attacking it was difficult. Against Juventus, the team had 46 per cent possession but conceded three goals. Sunday’s game was pretty much the same, but we didn’t concede.

‘We are improving in defence, we have to keep the same level in attack and then hopefully we will score goals, it’s about finding the right balance.’

On winning the supporters over
Given the rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool, Benitez’s former club, it was inevitable that his appointment would take some getting used to for a section of our support.

However, the Spaniard respects the feelings of our fans and hopes that, in time, he will be able to win them round.

‘If a player doesn’t have the support of the fans I would tell him to stay focused, try to do his job, don’t be distracted and concentrate on his football,’ said Benitez.

‘I understand the feelings of the fans and I know how they feel because of my time at Liverpool and the rivalry.

‘I want to prove to them that I am here for the right reasons, I am here to win and if I can do it they will be pleased. I concentrate on my coaching and try to improve players, then it will be easier to win games and bring the fans back.

‘All I can say is that I’m working very hard to do my job. I make sure I talk to all the players and I prepare for everything ahead of the game. The only thing I can do is try to win their trust by doing my job. The best way to change things is by winning games.’

On Fernando Torres
The form of Torres, as ever, has been the source of much speculation outside the club, but Benitez, who worked with the striker during their time at Anfield, remains confident he can get the best out of him.

‘I’ll try to give him some confidence, see what he can do in a different way andimprove him – along with the rest of the team – physically,’ he explained.

‘If you are strong in defence, you can regain the ball easier, you will have more chances as you will have more possession, so that’s the idea. We will try to improve the shape of the team but keep their quality and mobility.

‘He’s not exactly the same now because as he was at the maximum level at that time. He can come back and improve but the team has to help him.’

On Cesar Azpilicueta
It was an all-round impressive defensive display on Sunday against Manchester City, but one player who caught the eye was Cesar Azpilicueta.

The Spanish right-back has featured regularly in recent weeks, and Benitez has been impressed with the attitude of his fellow countryman.

‘When a player isn’t playing every week you are expecting something, but I am not the type of manager who expects a player to come in and be perfect,’ he said.