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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 9, 2008

Rafa: To catch Chelsea we must beat Chelsea

Rafael Benitez accepts Liverpool's hopes of catching Chelsea in the Premier League hinge on tomorrow's trip to Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool are 11 points behind their third-placed opponents with a game in hand, but the Reds boss will not concede just yet that his injury-hit side cannot overhaul them.

He said: 'This game will be the key to whether we can catch Chelsea. We will see afterwards. For us it is the test.'

Benitez concedes the build-up for tomorrow's clash is much more low-key than his previous sparring sessions with Chelsea's former boss Jose Mourinho.

He said: 'Everyone does things differently, but the game will be no less difficult because they still have fine players.'

This will be the 18th time Liverpool have met Chelsea in Benitez's three years at Anfield, and he said of the new regime at Stamford Bridge: 'I am not surprised that Avram Grant has done well.

'Chelsea were a good team and they are still a good team that has spent a lot of money in the transfer window.

'If you do that, it is normal that you stay at the top of the table. The key always is the quality of players.

'I know we have not won at Stamford Bridge in recent seasons, but nobody is winning there so it is not just for us that it is difficult, it is difficult for everyone who goes there,'

He added: 'When you play a team like Chelsea a lot of times like this, it means that you are playing for big trophies, for us two Champions League semi-finals, a Carling Cup final.

'So I am very pleased we have met them so many times, it shows we are playing for the best trophies and in the biggest games.

'This game will be different to the two we have already played against them this season.

'But we definitely deserved more from the league draw at Anfield and in the Carling Cup we had (Peter) Crouch sent off and it meant a different type of game, which we ultimately lost.'

Liverpool will be without six key players tomorrow, with the loss of striker Fernando Torres the biggest blow.

The Spaniard has a hamstring injury and will be out for 10 days, also putting him out of the FA Cup fifth round home tie with Barnsley next weekend.

Andriy Voronin, Fabio Aurelio, Alvaro Arbeloa and Daniel Agger are all long-term injury victims, while Xabi Alonso is suspended. Ryan Babel picked up an ankle injury playing for Holland on Wednesday.

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