Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez focused on game for Anfield return

Rafael Benitez
Rafael Benitez

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez is confident of a good reception from Liverpool fans, but is determined that his first return to Anfield on Sunday will not be clouded by sentiment.

Benitez won the Champions League and the FA Cup in a six-year spell on Merseyside, which ended in 2010.

But he maintains the match is all about Premier League points.

"I have a lot of friends and memories from my time at Liverpool but I'll try to concentrate on the game," he said.

"You need to use your common sense. I am committed to Chelsea and to achieving our targets.

"Obviously, I was at Liverpool for six years and we won a lot of trophies, so I hope the fans appreciate that. However, they will also understand that I am their opponent on Sunday and they will support their own team."

Benitez guided Liverpool to semi-final victories over Chelsea on the way to winning the Champions League in 2005 and the FA Cup in 2006, as well as overcoming the Blues in the Champions League last four in 2007.

It led to a rivalry between the two clubs, particularly Benitez and then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

A section of Blues supporters have refused to accept Benitez as manager since he was named as an interim replacement for Roberto Di Matteo in November last year.

But the Spaniard, who had a brief spell as Inter Milan manager after leaving Liverpool, is adamant his only focus is on guiding Chelsea to third place.

He added: "It's good if the rivalry between the two clubs remains on the pitch because it means both are successful. It will be a tough game; Liverpool create a lot of chances and we will need to be strong in defence.

"We need to carry on winning because that will keep us in the driving seat to finish third."

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