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Fans Won't Sway Benitez

It will be interesting to see which of Fernando Torres and Demba Ba Chelsea line up with against Southampton tonight.

The Blues welcome the Saints to Stamford Bridge for the match they missed while they were away at the Club World Cup, and their fans are desperate to see Ba in action.

The Chelsea faithful howled their disgust last week, as the Blues slumped to a toothless home defeat against Swansea.

Benitez, Torres and even chairman Bruce Buck were the subjects of the fans’ wrath, as they clamoured for Ba and Frank Lampard to be thrown into the fray.

El Nino was reportedly hampered by a stomach bug, while Ba was said to be struggling with a slight knee knock.

They are both available tonight, and Benitez must decide which striker to go with. He wants to replicate the free-scoring wins Chelsea achieved at home against Aston Villa and six against Nordsjaelland earlier this season, and not duplicate the goal-shy home defeats to QPR and the Swans.

Having given up on Torres, it is clear who the Blues fans want to see start the match tonight.

But Benitez is adamant that fan sentiment will not dictate his team selections.

"You have a word in English: manager," said Benitez.

"The manager has to manage and consider everything, and afterwards he has to decide. I talk with my staff, the players, and I have all the feedback and information. Then I make a decision. I consider everything before making a decision.

“I told you about Fernando's stomach problems last week, and about Ba's slight problem, and I was not making excuses. I was telling you something you didn't know, but still people criticise me for the decisions I made despite the fact Demba Ba had a niggle. I knew Demba could be injured and it would have been a big risk [to play him more], and that was my decision.

“I will choose the best players to win games. This is always my job, to decide which players are the best for any game."   

There seems to be a poisonous atmosphere surrounding Stamford Bridge, which will probably only dissipate with the sudden arrival of Pep Guardiola.

But for now there is only Benitez, and he insists that in reality, despite the vitriol directed towards him by Chelsea’s fans, the club is on the up.

"There is actually a lot of positivity around [the club]. Look at the stats, the numbers: the team is creating chances and keeping clean sheets,” the Spaniard said.

“There are a lot of positive signals. My job is to try and concentrate on these positive things – that's the way to go forward."

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