Rafa happy to grind out wins
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez wants to win with style but he is more than happy to grind out victories to keep their momentum going.
Four successive Premier League wins have lifted the Blues back into the top four and have raised hopes of what appeared an unlikely title challenge.
But having swept aside struggling Aston Villa 8-0, they had to dig deep to beat Norwich 1-0 at Carrow Road and at Goodison Park on Sunday clawed back victory after conceding a second-minute opener.
Benitez has plenty of flair at his disposal but admits he is equally satisfied when players show the spirit needed to get three points.
And with a trip to bottom club QPR on Wednesday, the Spaniard accepts it may be more of the latter is required.
"You could see the character of the players at Everton because in the first 25 minutes we were not in the game, but little by little we were controlling and creating chances," he said.
"We knew we could create even more and I was really pleased with the performance of the team.
"We showed the level of our team and the options we have and I think it was one of our most difficult games.
"This is the process of understanding each other, my players have to understand what I want.
"Our idea is to play the same way, playing good football if we can but if not at least try to win showing character.
"Japan (the World Club Championships) was important for us because we were there a long time training, we had at least two or three training sessions together where we could do new things.
"We are still making some mistakes which we have to manage but the team is much better.
"The main thing for me is the attitude of the players: they are keen to learn.
"We had a discussion among the staff and we are really pleased with the way they train and behave every day, and that is really important for the future."
Benitez has been credited with getting striker Fernando Torres scoring again but the manager has been impressed with the selfless work his compatriot is doing for the team.
"It is not easy for him to fight against two centre-backs but he creates space for (Juan) Mata and I think the understanding between the two is very good," said Benitez.
"He is doing a great job for the team. Sometimes it is not about just scoring goals, it is creating the space for other players."
Captain John Terry is still sidelined with a knee injury sustained in mid-November and so that avoids any awkwardness at Stamford Bridge tomorrow when they come up against QPR.
Earlier this year, Terry was banned for four matches after being found guilty of racially abusing Rangers' defender Anton Ferdinand in an incident at Loftus Road in October 2011.
"John Terry is getting closer but we don't know how close," said Benitez.
"We have to wait and see every day when he is training the physios but I think the QPR game is too early for him."
The Chelsea boss is wary of the threat a team at the bottom of the table can pose if his side are not fully focused on their task.
"Obviously they are in a difficult position and that means they will be more dangerous," he said.
"They are a team fighting to avoid relegation and that will be a totally different challenge.
"We have to carry on doing our job, trying to concentrate and focus on the things we are doing well and trying to improve the things we are not doing well.
"They are trying to do well so we will see what will happen, but for us it is about concentrating on our job."