Mikel admits top-four priority

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Chelsea must qualify for the Champions League next season, and it would be a disaster if they fail to finish in the top four in the Premier League this season, says John Obi Mikel.

The 24-year-old midfielder is well aware of the importance of the club retaining its place in Europe's elite competition, and as the Blues prepare for their last-16 clash with Napoli in southern Italy this evening, Mikel is hopeful of a positive result.

Andre Villas-Boas finds himself under increasing pressure at Stamford Bridge after a series of disappointing results this season, resulting in the club falling off the pace in the Premier League title race.

Chelsea currently lie in fifth position, and with Champions League qualification by no means guaranteed this year, Mikel is well aware of the significance of an upturn in form.

"We must finish in the top four, anything less than that is disaster," he told The Sun. "That will ease the pressure off us to look forward to a better season where we can think of winning the title."

Villas-Boas cannot be held individually accountable for Chelsea's poor run of form, but as the manager he finds the spotlight is on him as the club look to improve results.

On the day of a potentially season-defining clash in Naples, it's more important than ever that he, his coaches, and most importantly of all, the players, stick together.

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John Obi Mikel
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