Roberto di Matteo has warned his Chelsea side that defeat against Tottenham this weekend would spell the end of their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League this season.
Chelsea are in danger of missing out on the competition for the first time since 2003 after a turbulent season which saw Andre Villas-Boas sacked after just eight months in charge of the club.
Di Matteo took charge after the former Porto boss was handed given his marching orders earlier this month, and guided the Blues to wins in each of his four games before they stumbled to a 2-1 defeat against Manchester City on Wednesday.
Spurs haven't tasted victory at Stamford Bridge since 1990, but while history is on their side, Di Matteo believes that his side simply cannot allow Harry Redknapp’s side to break their duck this season.
“We are playing at home and want to take advantage of our form at Stamford Bridge and our supporters as well,” he told reporters.
"A win would give us big lift but also if we manage to get the draw we're still in it.
"But if we lose it will be very difficult for us. I'm not contemplating that but it would be difficult.
“Whatever happens, it would still be mathematically possible and we will fight to the end but want to have a good game."
While Chelsea have prospered under Di Matteo, Tottenham have floundered in the league recently, losing three games in a row before their disappointing 1-1 draw with Stoke on Wednesday.
That poor run of form has allowed Arsenal to jump up in to third place and opened the door for Chelsea to return to the Champions League qualification spots, with five points now separating the two sides.
Chelsea have an exemplary record at Stamford Bridge this season and Di Matteo says he wants to see his side exploit any potential weaknesses in Tottenham’s armoury.
"We must try to exploit Spurs' current form. We haven't lost a game at Stamford Bridge in 2012 and we would like that to continue,” the Italian said.
"Losing at City was a bit of a setback but as I've said before - the target has to be fourth. If we got third that would be very good but we have to target fourth.
"We have the most difficult schedule, for certain, to the end of the season compared to the others, to Arsenal and Tottenham.
"But we have a good team and squad, almost fully-fit. We have all the resources we need to be able to challenge for that."
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