The Manchester pair face each other on Sunday lunchtime and Benitez believes that this is a chance for his side to close the gap to the rivals before they play.
Benitez got his first victory as manager in the Champions League in midweek despite the West Londoner going out and the late defeat to London rivals West Ham last weekend is still sure to be hurting.
The unpopular Blues boss has also praised Fernando Torres after the Spaniard scored twice in midweek and set up Chelsea’s goal at West Ham last week.
However, Benitez’ main aim is to beat Sunderland today and put pressure on the sides above them as the Premier League takes centre stage for Chelsea for the rest of the season.
“If we can be closer sooner rather than later, much better. Obviously we’ll have our chances if we start winning games.
“The last game was really good. We can talk about the level of the other team, but it was the Champions League.
“The intensity was fantastic and I was really pleased with the performance of the players. At 75 minutes we were still pushing and pushing.
“It was the same at 86 minutes, so I think they showed the character they have.
“Fernando Torres was working very hard and the team was better attacking. He scored two more goals and hopefully there will be more.”