BENITEZ: WORKING TOGETHER

Chelsea travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United in the FA Cup sixth round tomorrow, with manager Rafael Benitez calling on his team to work as a unit in order to secure a place in the semi-finals of a competition we’ve grown to love in recent years.

The Blues have lifted the trophy seven times in our history, with four of those triumphs coming since the final returned to Wembley in 2007, most recently last season, when goals from Ramires and Didier Drogba helped us to a 2-1 win over Liverpool.

While our opponents suffered Champions League elimination earlier this week against Real Madrid, they have displayed an impressive level of consistency in the Premier League, opening up a 12-point lead over nearest challengers Manchester City, and Benitez is under no illusions as to the size of the task.

‘It will be a tough game against a good team who are top of the table,’ he said. ‘It’s an away game for us, so we know it will be difficult but we are confident we can go through.

‘If you analyse the squad they have, they have four strikers and two players in each position that could play for any team. They have a strong squad and even when they make changes they keep the quality.

‘In attack, they have Chicharito, [Danny] Welbeck, [Wayne] Rooney and [Robin] Van Persie, and they can play any of them.

‘If you look at the players they have in wide areas and in the middle, especially if they are winning, in the last 20 minutes they still have players like [Ryan] Giggs and [Paul] Scholes to bring on.’

With the FA Cup and Europa League now our only realistic hopes of securing silverware this season, what has always been a standout fixture has now taken on even greater significance.

The Blues can take heart from our display against the league leaders back in November when we were unfortunate to lose 3-2 after being reduced to nine men, and Benitez, who won 4-1 on his last visit to Old Trafford as manager of Liverpool, is confident his side can make it a week to forget for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

‘It’s always a difficult game,’ explained the Spaniard. ‘They have a very good team, they are experienced and they are very competitive

‘Playing against a top side like United you know that anything can happen, you can win or lose.

‘We have had some very good games, and some not so good, but we have quality and if we work together we can get a result. United are very strong, but we are a top side.’

Benitez will be able to freshen the side up having rested the likes of Ramires, Victor Moses and Ashley Cole in Romania, something which he believes could make a big difference.

‘It’s an important competition which Chelsea have done very well in, so hopefully we can carry on,’ said the Spaniard.

‘The good thing is that we have another game so soon after a defeat, hopefully we can do better and win, and we will have five or six players with fresh legs.’

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: MANCHESTER UNITED V CHELSEA

09.03.2013

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: MANCHESTER UNITED V CHELSEA

From Romania to Greater Manchester – the games keep coming but the competitions change.

08.03.2013

FA YOUTH CUP REPORT: DERBY COUNTY 1 CHELSEA 2

The young Blues secured their place in the semi-finals of the Youth Cup with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Derby County at Pride Park…

08.03.2013

CHELSEA TV EXCLUSIVE: DAVID LUIZ REFLECTS

David Luiz spoke to Chelsea TV in the wake of our 1-0 defeat against Steaua Bucharest, and is hoping the team remains focused during an intense period of games…

08.03.2013

CHELSEA TV HEADLINES: ON TO THE NEXT

Today’s Chelsea TV headlines come from Cobham, where the players, who only arrived back in London in the early hours, are preparing for Sunday’s FA Cup game at Manchester United…

08.03.2013

CECH: ALL TO PLAY FOR

Petr Cech remains confident we can overturn a 1-0 deficit against Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge next week and secure our place in the Europa League quarter-finals…

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FINAL WHISTLE VERDICT: WE STILL BELIEVE

After watching his side fall to defeat in Bucharest, Rafael Benitez was left to reflect on a disappointing night after Raul Rusescu’s penalty sees Steaua head into next week’s second leg at Stamford Bridge with

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YOUTH CUP PREVIEW: GOOD STADIUM, GOOD CHALLENGE

It has already been an eventful FA Youth Cup campaign for Adi Viveash and his side…

07.03.2013

MATCH REPORT: STEAUA BUCHAREST 1 CHELSEA 0

A first-half Raul Rusescu penalty proved decisive in Bucharest, leaving the Blues with much to do in next week’s return leg…

07.03.2013

TEAM NEWS: STEAUA BUCHAREST V CHELSEA

Rafael Benitez makes five changes to the side which beat West Bromwich Albion on Saturday…

07.03.2013

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: STEAUA BUCHAREST V CHELSEA – PART TWO

Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton complete their detailed look at tonight’s match in the Romanian capital…

07.03.2013

GOURLAY: LOOKING FORWARD TO INDONESIA DEBUT

It is over four months before Chelsea play a match for the very first time in Indonesia, but the already mounting excitement was obvious as Ron Gourlay announced the Jakarta leg of this summer’s Asia

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GILES SMITH’S THURSDAY THOUGHTS

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07.03.2013

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: STEAUA BUCHAREST V CHELSEA – PART ONE

Following our win in Prague it is back to eastern Europe for the next away game in Chelsea’s campaign in this competition…

07.03.2013

BRAZILIAN BOYS NAMED IN SQUAD FOR BRIDGE CLASH

David Luiz, Oscar and Ramires have all been included in the Brazil squad for their friendly games against Italy and Russia, the latter of which will take place at Stamford Bridge on Monday 25 March…

07.03.2013

MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN ROMANIA

After completing their training session in the National Arena on Wednesday evening, the Chelsea players and management received some special guests at the stadium…

07.03.2013

BACK THE BLUES AT OLD TRAFFORD

The Blues travel to Old Trafford on Sunday to take on Manchester United in the FA Cup, and tickets for the game are now on sale to both season ticket holders and members…

07.03.2013

DOWNLOAD DIGITAL CHELSEA MAGAZINE

Chelsea magazine, the official monthly publication of the champions of Europe, is now available to download digitally in the App Store…

07.03.2013

YOUTH CUP PREVIEW: YOUNG DANE READY FOR DERBY TEST

Defender Andreas Christensen discusses Friday’s FA Youth Cup tie away at Derby, a match that can be viewed live on Chelsea TV…

06.03.2013

BENITEZ: GAME BY GAME

Ahead of Chelsea’s 50th game of the season, Rafael Benitez has discussed the importance of keeping focused when competing on three fronts…

06.03.2013

DAVID LUIZ: BIG CLUB, BIG OPPORTUNITY

In his first full season at the club, David Luiz enjoyed success in both the Champions League and FA Cup, and the Blues defender is eager to expand his Chelsea medal collection…

06.03.2013

TRY THE CHELSEA APP FOR FREE

Have you tried the Official Chelsea FC Mobile App, which is currently free to download yet?

06.03.2013

BLUES TOUCH DOWN IN BUCHAREST

The Chelsea squad have arrived in Romania ahead of tomorrow’s Europa League clash against Steaua Bucharest…

FA YOUTH CUP REPORT: DERBY COUNTY 1 CHELSEA 2

Summary
The young Blues secured their place in the semi-finals of the Youth Cup with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Derby County at Pride Park. An early Lewis Baker penalty and a late Alex Kiwomya winner, either side of Mason Bennett’s leveller on the hour mark, saw Adi Viveash’s side secure a two-legged last-four tie against either Hull City or Liverpool.

Team news
Nathan Ake returned to the Youth Cup fold for Adi Viveash’s side to slot in alongside familiar partner Alex Davey at the heart of the Blues defence, with Adam Nditi and Andreas Christensen continuing at left and right back respectively, in front of Mitchell Beeney between the sticks.

Lewis Baker skippered the side from midfield, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and John Swift alongside him, while Reece Mitchell led the line in front of Jeremie Boga and Alex Kiwomya on the flanks.

Islam Feruz was unavailable for selection.

First half
With the home side going into the game following a run of seven games without defeat in league and cup, it was important not to let them get into their stride early on.

Ake, fresh from his recent involvement with the first team, showed the first sign of real quality in the game, playing a delightful ball into the path of Nditi, only for the Blues left-back to lose his footing as he shaped to cross.

We should have been in front as early as the sixth minute after some great work down the right-hand side by John Swift, whose cross ran perfectly into the path of Lewis Baker. The skipper controlled it with his first touch, but with only the goalkeeper to beat fired straight at his feet.

The hosts were enjoying plenty of possession during the opening exchanges but it was Chelsea enjoying the better chances, and moments later Jeremie Boga went close with a dipping effort after some neat footwork allowed him to advance beyond his marker.

We were threatening every time we pushed forward, and in the 14thminute Reece Mitchell took advantage of a defensive lapse, and was awarded a penalty after rounding Ross Etheridge and being brought down.

Reece Mitchell wins a penalty

Baker was the man entrusted with taking the kick, and the skipper fired us into the lead with a well-taken spot-kick, his second of the FA Youth Cup campaign.

Mitchell received prolonged treatment in the aftermath of winning the penalty but was unable to continue and Viveash replaced him with Fankaty Dabo, in a move that required a slight tweaking of positions. Kimonya moved central to lead the attacking line, with Dabo supporting from the right flank.

The hosts were setting the tone with some hard-hitting challenges in midfield, though it was a free kick opportunity that Jamie Hanson bent just over Beeney’s bar, after a foul on the edge of the box by Davey, that was the game’s next action.

Kiwomya then had a few decent opportunities to punctuate what had been rather a quiet spell for the visitors since taking the lead. Initially he poked a chance just past the far post after good build-up play between Boga and Baker, before the former expertly teed him up with a deft turn and flick, though Etheridge kept out the shot right at him.

As the interval loomed it was Kiwomya threatening again, this time with his pace down the left as he led a quick Chelsea break, though after cutting inside his final effort was comfortable for Etheridge.

Yet it was almost a Derby equaliser in stoppage time of the first half as Bennett rose to head a centre from the right flank onto Beeney’s post, with the keeper beaten. It was a let-off for the visitors, coming so soon before the break, and allowed them to go in at the interval with their slender advantage intact.

Second half
Viveash was forced to make another change at half time, sending on Dion Conroy for the injured Christensen, who seemed to take a heavy knock moments before the break. Derby started the second period brightly, with Rhys Sharpe testing Beeney with the first minute of the restart, although the Blues stopper was down well to get his body behind the ball.

At the other end Nditi, now playing further forward as a result of the reshuffle that saw Dabo drop to right back and Aké move to the left of defence, blazed an effort over the bar.

With the majority of a 4,188 home crowd roaring them on, the hosts grabbed an equaliser on the hour mark. Bennett stole possession from Dabo down the Derby left and his driven delivery looped off the unfortunate intervening Davey and over Beeney into the back of the net.

It was a rather fortuitous leveller, though Dales rattled the crossbar just a couple of minutes later to send a further warning sign to Chelsea as the young Rams enjoyed their best spell of the game. The Blues did a good job of absorbing the pressure from the home side, however, with the centre-back pairing of Davey and Conroy defending resolutely.

Nditi had another decent opportunity that was well blocked after promising interplay between the defender and Loftus-Cheek, while Kiwomya was proving to be a real menace on the counter-attack with his pace in behind. As the game ticked towards the possibility of extra-time it was the speedy striker who got in behind the Derby defence and beat the offside trap, though his contact wasn’t strong enough to beat the onrushing yet stranded Eldridge.

Bennett then had a great chance to win the game as he powered into the box with the play building down the right, though he got minimal contact on the header and should have done better to test Beeney from a promising position in the box.

It was Viveash’s boys breathing another sigh of relief shortly after as Dales capitalised on some loose play between defenders at the back and headed directly towards goal, though the excellent Davey made a very good tackle to thwart the danger.

That was to be a game-changing moment as Chelsea raced up the other end to grab the winner. Kiwomya worked a couple of yards over the covering defender and rifled a brilliant effort down low into the corner of Etheridge’s goal.

Alex Kiwomya scores against Derby

There was time right at the death for Boga to hit the top of Etheridge’s crossbar with a deflected effort and for the hosts to return the favour, with Hanson’s swinging free kick rebounding off Beeney’s woodwork with practically the last kick of the game.

The young Blues had hung on and progressed from a very tricky, hard-fought contest in the Midlands to move one step closer to defending their Cup crown.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Mitchell Beeney; Andreas Christensen (Dion Conroy h/t), Nathan Ake, Alex Davey, Adam Nditi; Ruben Loftus-Cheek, John Swift (Charlie Colkett 68); Alex Kiwomya, Lewis Baker (c), Jeremie Boga; Reece Mitchell (Fankaty Dabo 18).
Unused substitutes: Ben Killip, Isak Ssewankambo.

CHELSEA TV EXCLUSIVE: DAVID LUIZ REFLECTS

David Luiz spoke to Chelsea TV in the wake of our 1-0 defeat against Steaua Bucharest, and is hoping the team remains focused during an intense period of games.

The Blues will look to overturn the deficit in next week’s return leg at Stamford Bridge having fallen to defeat courtesy of a Raul Rusescu penalty in the first half at the National Arena.

David Luiz, who played on the left of the central defensive pairing alongside John Terry in a bid to combat the threat of Adrian Popa, acknowledged it had been a tough night.

‘Me and JT have worked together for a long time. That was the plan because their number 77, the right winger, was quick, so I’m a bit younger than JT so I needed to run more,’ he told Chelsea TV with a smile.

‘It was a difficult game on a difficult pitch. We couldn’t play proper football, the way Chelsea like to play. We couldn’t play out from the back or take risks, but we still have a second leg and we need to win it to stay in the competition.

‘Steaua are a good team, they’ve played together for a long time. They have strong support and if they weren’t a good team they wouldn’t still be in the competition.’

Having completed our 50th match of the season in Bucharest, the games keep coming, and next up is the small matter of a sixth round FA Cup tie away at Manchester United on Sunday.

David Luiz is relishing the opportunity to bounce back from our Europa League setback, and hopes United’s Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid earlier in the week will play into our hands.

‘We have three competitions left to play in and we need to be focused for all the games,’ said the 25-year-old.

‘Great players like to play in great games. I’m eager to play in this match against a top team with amazing players and a great coach, we need to be ready.

‘I hope it affects them, they lost the game, but Manchester United have a strong mentality and experienced players, it will be another difficult game.’

CHELSEA TV HEADLINES: ON TO THE NEXT

Today’s Chelsea TV headlines come from Cobham, where the players, who only arrived back in London in the early hours, are preparing for Sunday’s FA Cup sixth round game at Manchester United.

Don’t miss live and exclusive coverage of our Under-18s’ FA Youth Cup quarter-final away at Derby County tonight from 6.30pm, where you can also hear the thoughts of Rafael Benitez following last night’s defeat against Steaua Bucharest.