John Terry has written off Liverpool's ability to challenge for honours when key men Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are unavailable, claiming the Reds' depth doesn't match that in the Chelsea squad.
The Blues captain has been delighted with the way his team have coped in Europe without suspended striker Didier Drogba. His replacements, Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou, have responded with crucial goals as Chelsea have soared to the top of Champions League Group D.
Anelka scored winning goals in their opening two games against Porto and Apoel Nicosia while Kalou struck twice in the 4-0 demolition of Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.
Terry reckons Chelsea's strength in reserve contrasts markedly with a Liverpool team which struggles when they are without Gerrard and Torres. Liverpool have lost their last four games and could face Manchester United on Sunday without both key players, while Chelsea take on Blackburn at home on Saturday.
Asked if Benitez's men will be out of the title race if they lose to United, Terry replied: "I'm not sure, but when Stevie and Torres get injured they seem to be very short in the squad they've got.
"We're very fortunate at Chelsea. Since Roman Abramovich came we have had a lot of strength in depth in the squad, like with Salomon Kalou scoring twice against Atletico with Didier Drogba being out. People said we would struggle without Didier, but we didn't. If you take Torres out of their team, who do they bring in? It's difficult.
"We have players that are not here only to make up the numbers, but players that are fighting and working hard every day in training to come in and really prove themselves. Salomon seems to always come in and do well. Didier knows that the players behind him are working hard and wanting his place, the same goes for Nico. When Salomon comes in and does well, it gives the manager a real problem.''