Benitez will lead Torres and Chelsea to his former team, Liverpool
Rafa Benitez makes an emotional return to Liverpool Sunday when he continues his attempt to secure Chelsea a place in the top four. The Spaniard is a Kop idol at Anfield after winning the Champions League, FA Cup and securing the best Premier League finish in the club’s history during a six-year tenure.
Now Benitez returns to Liverpool as a manager for the first time since leaving in 2010 and he is expected to receive a fantastic welcome from fans who still sing his name, unlike another ex-player Fernando Torres.
But the interim Chelsea boss, who has not been a popular figure with many supporters of the Stamford Bridge club, will put sentiment to one side come Sunday afternoon’s late kick-off. Benitez is determined to secure Chelsea a place in the top four and subsequently qualify for next season’s lucrative UEFA Champions League.
The 2011/12 kings of Europe currently sit in fourth after being overtaken by Arsenal with Arsene Wenger’s team winning 1-0 at Fulham Saturday.
However, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, a former Chelsea coach, will not want to be overshadowed by one of his predecessors and will be focused on victory. In what has been a mixed season, seventh-placed Liverpool still have the motivation to close a six-point gap and finish above Merseyside rivals Everton.
Meanwhile Manchester City head to Tottenham in Sunday’s early kickoff knowing victory is essential to extend their ever-loosening grasp on the Premier League trophy for a few more days.
The reigning champions narrowed the gap on runaway leaders Manchester United to 13 points in midweek, but with just six games remaining for Roberto Mancini’s men the sands of time are running out on their title defence.
Defeat for City at White Hart Lane would give Sir Alex Ferguson’s men the opportunity to wrap up a record 20th top-flight crown when United welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford Monday night.
Tottenham, meanwhile, are locked in the battle for UEFA Champions League football next season and are currently just outside the top four with Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton all jockeying for position going into the home straight.
Andre Villas-Boas’ men have taken just four points from their last four games and know a strong finish is essential if they are to be playing among Europe’s elite next season.