Benitez needs goals to keep flowing at Chelsea


Chelsea’s free-scoring form is slowly chipping away at the enmity toward new manager Rafa Benitez from the club’s fans. The 8-0 demolition of Aston Villa on Sunday showcased Chelsea’s attacking prowess, and dispelled some of the fears about the dour football Benitez could introduce after replacing Roberto Di Matteo at Stamford Bridge last month. “There won’t be one of our fans watching who didn’t enjoy the performance and hopefully we can continue,” Chelsea defender Gary Cahill said. “The manager said he is going to keep working hard and doing his best and as players that is what we try to do, and I am sure we will win people over with performances like that.” The club record-equaling league win on Sunday was secured despite being Chelsea’s fifth match in 15 days, including a grueling Club World Cup trip to Japan that was followed by a 5-1 League Cup win at Leeds. Now the team has another five games to negotiate in 15 days during the Christmas-New Year program, starting Wednesday at Norwich. Norwich embarked on a 10-match unbeaten run after losing 4-1 at Chelsea in October, including wins over Manchester United and Arsenal, but was beaten by West Bromwich Albion on Sunday. “They have great attacking options – we experienced that at their place a couple of months ago,” Norwich manager Chris Hughton said. “At the moment Chelsea are on a high and (Benitez) will be judged on that.” Sitting third, Chelsea could be back in the title race if the resurgence continues. While seven points behind Manchester City and 11 adrift of Manchester United, Chelsea has a game in hand after beating Villa to end a stretch of more than two months without a home win in the league.