Eden Hazard has insisted that Chelsea are focused on a top-four finish this campaign and have no designs for the Premier League title.
The west London side suffered their first setback in the league this season when Tottenham Hotspur beat them 3-1 at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
The disappointing defeat against their London rivals also saw Maurizio Sarri lose his first competitive match as Blues head coach, ending an 18-match unbeaten run in all competitions that stretches all the way back since August. The result left the Stamford Bridge side fourth in the Premier League table, seven points off defending champions Manchester City at the summit.
Hazard, who featured in the full 90 minutes for Chelsea, has stated the Blues are not entertaining title ambitions and instead are channeling all their energy in finishing among the Champions League places, before conceding that the gap with the current champions Man City are too big at this point.
“We are thinking about finishing in the top four, not to be the champions. We know City are not much better than Chelsea but they are better at the moment,” said the Belgian superstar.
“In what areas are City better? A lot of things: possession; when they have chances, they score; maybe defensively they are better. They have top players.
“Is it due to their consistency as well, winning game after game? Yes, of course. They are in a good momentum since last year and we need to be back like this.”
Hazard admitted to the Blues’ disappointing outing against Spurs, who had raced to a 2-0 lead after just over a quarter of an hour. After wasting a host of chances, the north London side added a third after the restart before substitute Olivier Giroud snuck in a consolation goal for Chelsea, who did not play their usual flowing game under Sarri as Tottenham bamboozled their opponents with their high-intensity pressing.
Yet Hazard insists there is no cause for alarm with the Belgian looking forward to resume their winning ways in their next league match against fellow London side Fulham after a Europa League encounter against PAOK Salonika on Thursday.
“It could have been a lot worse on Saturday. Everything was bad against Spurs. Against Tottenham it is always going to be hard to start a game 2-0 down,” added the Belgian international.
“We tried to push but it was not enough. It was a bad day, we need to move forward and try to bounce back.
“When you lose one, you don’t want to make it two. We have to win, we have to play better and win again.
“We want to go on another unbeaten run now. We want to take points. The target is to finish in the top four. In the Premier League, anything can happen.
“Next Sunday we can beat Fulham and other teams can lose points. There is no need to panic. We have been playing good football.
“We have shown since the beginning of the season we are a good team. So no panic, just try to forget this game.”
Despite having stayed unbeaten prior to the match, Chelsea has suffered a decline in quality with only three wins out of their last eight games in the league with Sarri increasingly critical of his team’s mentality towards matches but Hazard voiced his disagreement with the coach, saying they just need to identify the team’s shortcomings in the game against Spurs and eliminate them in their next fixtures.
“I don’t think it is a mental problem,” added Hazard. “We have top players in the team, we have players who can play under pressure.
“When we are losing, you can always find an excuse but Tottenham were just better. I don’t think we have been getting complacent after our unbeaten run. We just need to analyse why we lost and then try to not do it again.”