Benitez Plotting To Rewrite History

Rafa Benitez insists Everton will go to Stamford Bridge on Thursday armed with a plan to secure the Club’s first league win at the home of Chelsea since 1994.

Manager Benitez is missing a long list of first-choice performers for the clash with the European champions, Richarlison and Andros Townsend joining the injured ranks following Sunday’s defeat by Crystal Palace.

The result at Selhurst Park felt especially disappointing for Benitez after his side’s compelling effort to send Arsenal away empty-handed from a raucous Goodison Park six days earlier.

Everton sit 14th in the Premier League standings. Pull off a profitable raid on a Chelsea side beaten only once in 15 matches, however, and they will be back knocking on the door of the division’s top half.

“The first thing we did yesterday was work on the ideas and how we want to play and approach the game,” said Benitez, speaking in his pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

“Today we continued the same way and when we finished the session, I encouraged the players to be sure we go there with the idea to win the game.

“When I say that… it is not being on the front foot.

“Chelsea are strong and, sometimes, you have to win on the counter-attack.

“We need a plan to get the best from our players and take advantage of Chelsea’s weaknesses, although there are not many.

“Everybody can see the top sides normally have the possession and are on top of you, they push and push.

“We were quite good on the counter-attack at the beginning of the season and we have players up front with pace.

“You have to adapt your system, your way of playing, depending on the players you have, to try to implement things.”

Taking the meeting with Chelsea in isolation, Everton need only scan recent history to gauge the scale of their task this week.

Paul Rideout scored the only goal when Everton last won in that corner of west London 27 years ago. Everton last scored a league goal at Chelsea’s stadium in January 2016.

Rafa Benitez
When you have a difficult time and you stick together, you know later on you will be stronger.

The injuries mounting this week add to the severity of the challenge.

Benitez, then, underlined the imperative of remaining united, both in the interim, while contending with missing personnel, and longer-term, as key men return to the fold.

“I spoke today to some of the senior players and everybody understood it was important to stick together,” said Benitez.

“When you have a difficult time and you stick together, you know later on you will be stronger.

“I have confidence we will do well and we have to be sure that the players give everything.

“It is one thing to be successful, or not, but another to give everything on the pitch, which they are doing.

“That is the main message from me, to continue fighting and trying to do their best.”

Benitez admits early season fitness issues for a handful of players left Everton trapped in a vicious cycle where those available had minimal chance for rest.


The former Valencia manager cited the example of Richarlison to make his point, the Brazilian expected to miss a “number of weeks” after tearing a calf muscle in the meeting with Palace.

“Richarlison is injured because, maybe, there was an overload like the majority of our players,” said Benitez.

“They are playing more than they could expect if you manage the squad with 25 players because… some of these [25] were not playing.

“We are trying to deal with that, we will go to January and try to improve the squad in terms of positions and names.

“Hopefully, we can do well and I’m sure we will be much better in the second part of the league.”

Benitez added: “The fans at the beginning could see what we were looking for: the intensity and commitment and style of play.

“Everybody was delighted.

“With the frustration of the past few years, everybody could see we were going in the right direction.

“We are losing games because we are making individual mistakes but the attitude of the players is quite good.

“I’m sure if we add some people and bring back these key players, we will be stronger.”