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Rafael Benitez urges Liverpool to attack Chelsea

Barclays Premier League
Venues: Anfield and Stadium of Light Date: Sunday, 2 May
Kick-offs: 1330 BST - Liverpool v Chelsea; 1600 BST - Sunderland v Man Utd
Coverage: BBC Sport website, BBC Radio 5 live, local radio and Sky Sports
Highlights: Match of the Day 2 at 2225 BST

Rafa Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson (right) is hoping Benitez's Liverpool can do United a favour on Sunday

Rafael Benitez will tell his Liverpool side to adopt an "offensive mentality" when they take on Chelsea on Sunday.

Benitez is eager to see his players react after Thursday's Europa League exit at the hands of Atletico Madrid.

"Chelsea are different to Atletico but we want to win so have to play with an offensive mentality," said Benitez.

Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson insists Liverpool will not "throw away history" by giving Chelsea the win to scupper Manchester United's title chances.

The Blues head to Anfield one point clear of United, who visit Sunderland in Sunday's later on Sunday. A win for Chelsea in the 1330 kick-off will mean United must win at the Stadium of Light to take the title race to the final game of the season on 9 May.

United boss Ferguson is bidding to overhaul the record of 18 English titles they hold with the Reds and with two games remaining, he said: "They've been in 11 European finals and won 18 titles.

"Great clubs don't throw traditions away for one game. The fans know that."

The 68-year-old Scot added: "Do you think the fans want to go home saying their players capitulated and they didn't try and thinking it wouldn't happen again?"

I don't care what Manchester United will do. I will play to win on Sunday because I want to make sure we can get those three points and still have a chance of fourth place

Jose Reina

Benitez came up against Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti in the 2005 Champions League final, when Ancelotti was in charge of AC Milan.

The Reds famously came out on top as the Spaniard's side turned around a 3-0 half-time deficit to win on penalties.

"In Istanbul AC Milan did everything that they had to do, but the problem for them and Ancelotti was they were playing against Liverpool and we never give up," said Benitez.

Ancelotti has since had his revenge, winning the trophy against the Reds in Athens two years later, and his team also took the honours with a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge earlier this season in the Premier League.

However, Chelsea have won only three times in 17 Premier League visits to Anfield.

Liverpool have endured a difficult season, which took a further downturn when they suffered a Europa League semi-final defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid on Thursday, going out on away goals after Diego Forlan's extra-time strike.

ALAN HANSEN COLUMN

But with Ferguson's side facing Sunderland at the Stadium of Light two hours after the Liverpool v Chelsea clash, the Scot is hopeful that the Reds' professionalism will ensure they perform against the Blues.

The Merseysiders themselves are battling for fourth place which comes with the chance to play in the lucrative Champions League but Rafael Benitez's Reds are seventh, two points behind fourth-place Tottenham having played one game more.

"It is difficult to say how Liverpool's players will feel," reflected Ferguson, who could have 34-goal striker Wayne Rooney and defender Rio Ferdinand available again after recent injuries. "It is Rafa's job to prepare his players.

"The way we lost to Bayern Munich [in the Champions League] gave me a difficult job to raise players but you have to do it. That is your job.

"It took me a couple of days to get over it. But you can't wallow in a pit. I would totally agree that we would have preferred last night's game [Liverpool v Atletico Madrid on Thursday] to finish in 90 minutes and I have always said teams don't get the proper help when they are in Europe.

"Having to play Sunday lunchtime after a Thursday game is not fair but it happens time and again when we see repeatedly teams abroad being allowed to bring games forward to suit their programme. That is a fact.

"They say there is congestion but it is not that big you can't help a team by one day or a few hours.

I think that Sunderland will do their best to beat United and Liverpool will do the same against us

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti

"We have all had to cope with it over the years. You depend on the great resilience of the English player."

This weekend's fixture situation bears similarities to 1995, when on the last day of the season United headed to West Ham knowing it would take a victory at Upton Park and a Liverpool win over Blackburn at Anfield to give them the title.

United's failure to beat the Hammers 15 years ago made Liverpool's victory over Blackburn that day redundant.

But Ferguson is hoping Benitez's side can emulate their predecessors to aid the Red Devils in their quest to claim a record 19th league title by sealing an historic fourth in succession.

"We were depending on Liverpool producing - and they did," recalled Ferguson.

"You have to earn a right to win the title. OK, there were a lot of English players in their team that day and they understood the history of Liverpool FC.

"But I don't think there has been such a swing that the current players do not understand the history of Liverpool."

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina has bristled at the suggestion he and his team-mates would be going for anything other than a victory against Chelsea.

606: DEBATE
Owen 007

"I don't play for them," Spaniard Reina said. "I play for my team and my supporters.

"I don't care what Manchester United will do. I will play to win on Sunday because I want to make sure we can get those three points and still have a chance of fourth place.

"We are playing at home and we never play for a draw or defeat. We will try to deliver a last home win of the season."

While Liverpool can be expected to provide stern opposition as Chelsea target another three points, Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti was unfazed by suggestions that Sunderland - managed by former United captain Steve Bruce - may not provide Ferguson's men with the toughest of challenges.

"I think that Sunderland will do their best to beat United and Liverpool will do the same against us," Ancelotti said.

"Every team has respect for this Premier League and every team has to do their best until the end of the matches.

"We have to pay attention because Liverpool are a strong team and it's very difficult to win at Anfield, but we have to try. We need to have three more points after Sunday.

"With two victories we can be champions, so we have to focus on our game and not think about Sunderland's result."

Sunderland skipper Lorik Cana insisted his side would not just roll over for Man Utd.

"For people who think Sunderland have got nothing to play for now and are not going to play 100% against Manchester United, that's definitely not the case because we are motivated 300% and we want to win this game," he said.



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Premier League table
Sunday, 3 November 2013 17:56 UK
    P GD PTS
1 Arsenal 10 13 25
2 Chelsea 10 8 20
3 Liverpool 10 7 20
4 Tottenham 10 4 20

5 Man City 10 17 19

6 Southampton 10 7 19
7 Everton 10 4 19
8 Man Utd 10 4 17
9 Newcastle 10 -2 14
10 Hull City 10 -2 14
11 West Brom 10 0 13
12 Cardiff 10 -4 12
13 Swansea 10 0 11
14 Aston Villa 10 -3 11
15 West Ham 10 0 10
16 Fulham 10 -5 10
17 Stoke 10 -4 9

18 Norwich 10 -14 8
19 Sunderland 10 -15 4
20 Crystal Palace 10 -15 3

see also
Alan Hansen's column
30 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd
02 May 10 |  Premier League
Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea
02 May 10 |  Premier League
Benitez wants overhaul at Anfield
29 Apr 10 |  Europe
Ancelotti unfazed by title battle
26 Apr 10 |  Chelsea
Pressure is on Chelsea - Redknapp
24 Apr 10 |  Man Utd
Ancelotti rejects Ferguson claims
13 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Ups and downs
10 Jun 10 |  Football
Football on the BBC
11 Aug 10 |  Football


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