Guus Hiddink is determined to finish the season in second place in the Barclays Premier League after accepting Chelsea cannot realistically win the title.
Hiddink's side are six points adrift of leaders Manchester United, who also have a game in hand on the Blues. So the Dutch coach, whose side face a revitalised West Ham under former Chelsea stalwarts Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke on Saturday, has targeted a runner-up finish.
"We have to take the league seriously," declared Hiddink. "We have to be in the first few spots for qualification for the Champions League next year. We have to go for second or third place at least, so we have to take this game very seriously."
He added: "There's always a reaction. As we said before, the pressure was always on Liverpool and us not to drop points, which we did.
"So, normally, we cannot go for the title. We have a very important game coming up on Tuesday, but also tomorrow.
"Man Utd had a difficult time dropping points a few weeks ago, but their game in hand is a luxury.
"They'll use that. If you're in the driver's seat, and you are used to being there, then you are the favourite. They are favourites. When I'm favourite, normally I win."
But Hiddink admits to feeling a slight sense of relief in being forced to concentrate on the Champions League and the FA Cup final in May.
"Yeah, relief," said Hiddink. "If your squad isn't fully equipped with quality players for all the 11 positions, sometimes you might pay a high price if you fight for three titles. But it's difficult, as it's shown for us.
"We have to be realistic. The big clubs don't waste too many points these days. They recover."
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