Gary Cahill believes it will need a “very, very surprising” turn of events for Chelsea to add Champions League qualification to their FA Cup final appearance.
Manchester United lie in wait in the May 19 finale after the Blues overcame Southampton 2-0 in Sunday’s semi-final, with Olivier Giroud’s goal early in the second half added to by substitute Alvaro Morata.
That Wembley return offers a chance to atone for last year’s surprise FA Cup final loss to Arsenal – and perhaps send manager Antonio Conte off in style as speculation mounts over his future after an underwhelming title defence.
Chelsea are five points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham with four matches remaining and skipper Cahill is taking a realistic approach.
“I am not being negative by any stretch, but the games are running out and the teams in there are very good, so if they do let it up it’ll be very, very surprising,” the defender said.
“(There is) that gap and the point difference, but the obvious thing is all we can do is win our games.
“We got a decent result at Burnley and we just need to keep winning.”
Chelsea head to struggling Swansea next Saturday evening, before back-to-back home games against Liverpool and Huddersfield are followed by a trip to Newcastle.
The approach at St James’ Park will depend very much on the Blues’ league hopes, given a clash with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho in the FA Cup final looming large.
“We need it and we wanted it,” Cahill said of the semi-final performance.
“It was important that we tried to reach the final, so it gives us a good opportunity now.
“The final didn’t go great for us last year, so we want to try and make amends, but we did the job that we needed to do.”