Rafael Benitez has argued that Chelsea are not out of the title race yet, despite currently lying 10 points behind leaders Manchester United.
Although he did not directly respond to Alex Ferguson's claim on Friday that the Premier League is now a "two-horse race" between the Manchester clubs, the Spaniard made a pointed reference to his victorious 2001-02 Spanish campaign with Valencia, when his team overturned an eight-point gap to eventually win the title.
"I'm not worried about the distance. It's important we win [against Sunderland on Saturday] so we are close, but all we can do is think about one game at a time. We have to improve the team and be mentally strong enough to compete in the second part of the league.
"At Valencia, we were eight points behind in January. If we have to do the same here, we will do it. But we have to show the same character we have. The main thing is about the evolution of our team. If we're stronger, we'll be able to win games in a row. We have to find form.
"My thoughts are clear: we have to win against Sunderland and we can be closer to at least one of [the Manchester clubs]. That's what I have to do, concentrate on my team, my job. if we can be closer sooner rather than later, much better. Obviously, we'll have our chances if we start winning games."