Chelsea Winning the fans

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Chelsea’s free-scoring form is slowly erasing the hate towards new manager Rafa Benitez among 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 do 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-equalling league win was secured despite being Chelsea’s fifth match in 15 days, including a gruelling Club World Cup trip to Japan that was followed by a 5-1 League Cup win at Leeds.

But Benitez has been boosted by messages from supporters after the 5-1 hammering of Leeds at Elland Road.

Benitez said, “I guarantee a lot of fans are positive when I see them. Scoring a lot of goals will help.

“If we are doing well and we are consistent it gets easier. I just do what I can.

“In the first press conference I said I understood the feelings. All I can do is try to win games.

“I said at the beginning that we have to win together. It is easier if the fans are behind the team.

“If we are winning games they will be behind us.”

Benitez could improve his standing with a couple of good signings in January — with a striker a top priority.

The coach said, “Everybody knows more or less what we are looking for or what we’ll try to find.”

Now the club have another four games to negotiate during the Christmas-New Year programme, starting with the match against Everton on Sunday.

Sitting third, Chelsea could be back in the title race if the resurgence continues. While four points behind Manchester City and 11 adrift of Manchester United, Chelsea have a game in hand after beating Norwich on Boxing Day.

“We showed what we are capable of and it is just a matter of consistency now,” Cahill said. “We have a lot of young players but… you can really see the quality in the squad.”

Most importantly for Chelsea, Fernando Torres has been rejuvenated under fellow Spaniard Benitez, who first brought him to England when he was in charge at Liverpool.

The striker has netted seven goals in his last six games, all under Benitez, having scored only seven in the opening four months of the season. “As soon as he started scoring goals, he had confidence and for a striker it is key,” Benitez said. “The team is doing well so he has more chances.”

David Luiz is another player who is thriving under Benitez. The Brazilian defender was among the seven goal scorers last weekend and produced a vibrant display when he was redeployed from central defence to midfield.

Chelsea’s mission is to keep the confidence flowing through the team just as it did in the early weeks of the season when they topped the standings.

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