12:00 AM, November 24, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 24, 2012

Barclays English Premier League

Benitez's baptism of fire

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Afp, London

Rafael Benitez began his reign as Chelsea interim manager insisting working with Roman Abramovich will be "easier" than the US ownership duo of George Gillett and Tom Hicks he knew at Liverpool.
Benitez arrived at Chelsea on Thursday and so became the club's ninth manager in just over eight years under the ownership of Russian billionaire Abramovich.
Former Liverpool coach Benitez, 52, is only under contract until the end of the current season after replacing Roberto di Matteo, sacked on Wednesday after European champions Chelsea lost 3-0 at Juventus in the Champions League.
Chelsea's rapid turnover of managers under Abramovich has long been a topic of discussion in English football.
But Benitez, who on Thursday had still to meet the Blues owner, said the experience could not be worse than the difficult relationship with Gillett and Hicks that led to the Spaniard's departure from Liverpool two years ago.
"If you have two bosses who aren't talking to each other, it's difficult," said Benitez. "You want a striker and one of them says: 'I don't know...'
"This will be easier."
Benitez will have a tough baptism of fire on Sunday when Manchester City, fresh from a draw with Real Madrid that scuppered their hopes of reaching the Champions League last 16 for the second season in a row, arrive in west London with a four-point lead over the hosts.
"Chelsea tried to win the Champions League for 10 years," said City manager Roberto Mancini. "The Champions League is strange, different, and we have to be patient for this."
Manchester United can overtake cross-town rivals City, if only for a day, at the summit when they face a bottom of the table QPR still looking for a first league win this season under Old Trafford old boy Mark Hughes on Saturday.
The match will be United's first since Friday's scheduled unveiling of a statue of manager Alex Ferguson who, in contrast to the managerial maelstrom elsewhere, has presided over the club for 26 years.

(1400GMT unless stated)
Aston Villa v Arsenal (1730GMT), Everton v Norwich, Manchester United v QPR, Stoke v Fulham, Sunderland v West Brom (1245GMT),
Wigan v Reading
Swansea v Liverpool (1330GMT), Southampton v Newcastle, Chelsea v Manchester City (1600GMT), Tottenham v West Ham (1600GMT).

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