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Benitez: Ba and Torres are equals

Rafa Benitez has admitted for the first time that Demba Ba will be considered an equal to Fernando Torres in terms of who starts for Chelsea - and that the competition can "bring the best out of both of them".

• Blog: Ba shines on debut
• Blog: Chelsea seal rare bargain

Previously, the former Newcastle United striker seemed to be seen as a mere back-up for the Spaniard, who has played an high number of minutes this season. But, having scored twice on his debut in the 5-1 FA Cup win against Southampton at the weekend, Ba is already pushing for a primary role.

When specifically asked whether Torres is still the team's first-choice striker - particularly since Chelsea mostly play a 4-2-3-1 - Benitez simply said he now has "two good players, two good options, and both will compete".

"It is good for me because before I didn't have to think about that [choosing between Torres and another striker]," Benitez said. "I'm pleased to be in this position. I prefer to be in a position where I can choose one or the other, keeping Fernando fit and now I can manage.

"It's important to have options, especially if you have two games in four days. We have different options. I have an idea, but I'm not going to say it in a press conference. It depends on them, how they feel and perform. There's no rule about one playing in this game and the other in the next. I've spoken to Fernando a lot, and with Demba, and they know what I am expecting of them.

"We have now two good players, two good options and both will compete. I can see everything positive in terms of the team now. Talking with Demba and Fernando, they both know they have to compete and play well. It can bring the best out of both them."

• Pick your Premier League fantasy squad for the second half of the season now and challenge your friends.


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