Rafael Benitez has been assessing his defensive options as we prepare for our final game of 2012.

We travel to Everton still without John Terry and with a hole in midfield where Oriol Romeu has been ruled out for around six months, though Ramires is expected to be fit to return after sitting out the win at Norwich on Boxing Day.

We have seen David Luiz operating in midfield alongside either Frank Lampard or John Mikel Obi, who themselves have suffered from injury and suspension in recent weeks, with the latter due to depart for African Cup of Nations duty in the new year.

Despite the multiple setbacks, Benitez has been impressed with what he has seen from his men.

‘When I arrived we were working with different defenders. JT was not here, but Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz were doing a great job and we had some clean sheets and the team is stronger in defence,’ said Benitez. ‘Still you can concede but the team is stronger in defence and we have the balance because we can attack.

‘Improving things is just a matter of spending hours on the training ground and you can see the difference.

‘They are good players, everybody knows they are good players and the understanding is much better. We are adjusting little things and with good players it is easy.

‘David Luiz in midfield is another option. We had a problem with Oriol Romeu injured and John Mikel Obi will go to the African Cup of Nations so we had to find a solution. David I knew could play there and he is really doing well.

‘It gives me a lot of opportunity to do different things, approach games in different ways or to change during the games.

‘Normally it is the opposite way. Normally you have a holding midfielder who is playing as a centre-back but in this case because he is good in possession and likes to play the ball, it is quite easy for him and he is enjoying it at the moment.’

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