After defeat a couple of weeks ago away to Reading, Rafa is taking nothing for granted as the reds travel to Derby for a Boxing Day clash. Derby are currently bottom of the Premiership.
Rafa Benitez said:
“Everyone is expecting us to beat Derby, but we have had experience of Reading – so we will have a lot of respect for Derby and will try to win this game,.”
“When you play away against a team which is battling relegation it is always very difficult.”
But he remains happy to continue his controversial rotation policy over the festive period.
“Sometimes you can use the same player; sometimes you use the squad,” he explained.
“I like to use the squad, because this is the key if you want to reduce the gap (to the teams at the top) – it is using the right players at the right moment.
“When you play four games in 12 days it is such a short time you can change players and they can understand.
“Sometimes when you play one game a week and you leave six players out of the squad it is more difficult to explain – but this situation is easier.”
Meanwhile vice-Captain Jamie Carragher insisted that the reds need to secure at least seven points from the upcoming three games.
“It does not really matter who the leaders are, as long as we keep them in sight,” he said.
“At the moment it is Arsenal up there, so we just need to make sure we keep hold of them for now. I am sure a time will come this season when they start to find it difficult, especially with all the young players they have in their side.
“There is no secret they are a great side, but I am sure they will be tested at some point. We just have to make sure we are there to capitalise when it happens.
“I am sure that Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea will keep winning – so it is up to us to prove we can stay with them. It would be really exciting if it is a four-horse race with 10 games to go.”
“Christmas is always a crucial time of the season. You can look at this period almost as a separate group of games in that sense.
“From these three games we would always say that seven points would be fine, but nine would be excellent. That would make a massive difference heading into the new year – I hope we can them be a lot close to Arsenal by then.”