Benitez hails improvement after sensational Chelsea win over Aston Villa

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez hailed his side’s improvement after a scintillating 8-0 home win over Aston Villa on Sunday.

The Blues blew away Paul Lambert’s men to move into third place in the Premier League – and Benitez refused to rule out a title challenge despite his team sitting 12 points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand.

“You can see the team improving,” Benitez told reporters. “With this type of performance, we will try to be as close as possible [to the title].

“To win is always special but the main thing is to see the team progressing and improving. Every training session we adjust little things and you can see the team growing.

“The players were really focused from day one. They have been trying to learn and improve. I think you can see the team is really concentrated, with belief and confidence in themselves.

“Now we have to sustain this run, keep winning games and then it will be easier for me to send the message across that we can compete.”

Benitez, who was appointed interim boss in November, also reserved praise for Fernando Torres after the Spaniard scored his 13th goal of the season to open the scoring with a superb third-minute header.

“As a striker, he needed to score goals,” he added. “The team is doing well, he has more chances and confidence because he is scoring goals.”

Meanwhile, Benitez confirmed that Daniel Sturridge has been at Liverpool undergoing a medical ahead of his proposed £12 million transfer to the Merseyside club in January.

Benitez said: “The information I had was that he was there [at Liverpool] having the medical. I don’t have any more information because I have been focusing on the game, so we will let you know. I think he’s a good player, he has all the talent.”

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