Rafael Benitez makes ‘obvious’ prediction about Chelsea in title race

Chelsea will challenge for the Premier League title this season, according to Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte Photo: Screen grab

Rafael Benitez insists it is clear Chelsea will challenge for the Premier League title and finish in the top three.

The defending champions endured a mixed start to the 2017-18 season to raise concerns about their ability to defend their top-flight crown.

While Chelsea have lost ground on Premier League leaders Manchester City, Antonio Conte’s side are well-placed in the chasing pack to pounce should the Citizens falter.

The west London side recorded their sixth win in seven games to move to within eight points of Manchester City ahead of the leaders’ clash against West Ham on Sunday.

Belgium international Eden Hazard restored parity in the 18th minute after Newcastle forward Dwight Gayle broke the deadlock at Stamford Bridge.

Victor Moses produced a brilliant cross to allow Alvaro Morata to score his 10th goal since his move to Chelsea from Real Madrid in a £58m deal in the summer transfer window.

Hazard polished off three points with an audacious penalty after Moses was brought down in the Newcastle area.

Former Chelsea boss and current Newcastle manager Benitez backed the title holders to challenge Manchester City and Manchester United for the top-flight crown.

“They have a very good team and they have to compete for the title, it’s obvious they are one of the teams who will be in the top three,” Benitez told BBC Sport.

Chelsea have won the Premier League title in two of the past three seasons.

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