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Benitez bemoans fixture congestion

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez hopes his squad can cope with their congested fixture as they prepare to take on Manchester City on Sunday.

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez hopes his squad can cope with their congested fixture as they prepare to take on Manchester City on Sunday.

Benitez’s men scraped through to the last 16 of the Europa League after a late goal from Eden Hazard was enough to see them emerge victorious in the two-legged tie against Sparta Prague.

Frank Lampard, Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole are all likely to return for the English Premier League encounter in Manchester.

Benitez said he was confident his team still had energy, with Chelsea looking to maintain their top-four spot in the league.

“We have played around nine games a month, so we have played more games than anyone in Europe,” he said.

“But we knew that before the game (against Sparta) so I rested some players so hopefully the players we use will be fine and we can keep the energy.

“When you play two games a week in two different competitions and you rest a few players and you win they will say ‘fantastic rotation’ but if you lose they say ‘why are you resting these players?’.”

Benitez again defended striker Fernando Torres, who has failed to find the net in February and has scored just once in 2013.

The Spanish manager said Torres should be judged on more than just goals, including the chances he creates for his team-mates with his movement.

“I think that when you analyse players with the strikers it is easy to say, ‘how many goals?'” Benitez said.

“But when you play with 11 players they all have to do their job, and part of the job for Fernando is create space and put players in good positions with his movement.

“(Juan) Mata is scoring goals, Hazard is scoring goals and if you remember the goal that was a fantastic goal of Hazard, Fernando was in the middle and was running inside and he created a little bit of space and time for Hazard so I will not say that this is his job, but it is part of his job and it is a part of his job he is doing really well.”

Fri 22 February, 2013
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