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Jan 21, 2013

Benitez defends Torres goal drought

Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez has continued his defence of striker Fernando Torres after the Spaniard's goalscoring drought was extended during the Blues' 2-1 defeat of Arsenal on Sunday.

• Blog: Chelsea stay relevant
• Ballack: Pep didn't trust Blues
• Delaney: Gunners out cold

Torres, 28, failed to score for the seventh consecutive match, with his last goal coming in Chelsea's 8-0 rout of Aston Villa last month.

The Spaniard was replaced by Demba Ba in the 81st minute and the substitute immediately tested Gunners goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

But Benitez believes Torres's critics are focused too much on crunching numbers and should concentrate on the striker's overall performance rather than his goal tally.

"Fernando was doing a great job," he said. "Afterwards, Demba gave us something we didn't have before. These people who like to quote stats and stats, they don't have any clue about what is going on.

"When you have one striker for a month and a half and cannot change, it's more difficult for the striker. When you have now two strikers, you can manage."

Benitez had hinted he was hoping to bring John Terry back into the starting line-up, with the defender declared fit to play. But he was rested due to concerns about a premature comeback.

The Chelsea boss has also sent a warning to Terry that he will have to fight to reclaim his place in the squad.

"He has to play, but you cannot play him in these kinds of games because, obviously, you have to play at home and you play high and it's more difficult for him if he has not this match fitness," Benitez said.

"Every player here has to compete for his position and that is the good thing for the team and for me as a manager."

Chelsea take confidence into their Capital One Cup semi-final second leg against Swansea on Wednesday, hopeful of overturning a 2-0 deficit.

"The clever thought is just thinking step by step," Benitez said. "We have to be focused just on the next game, which is now Swansea away. We have to score three goals at least to get through to the final and that's our aim now."

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