Champions League qualification is Chelsea's main aim, says Mikel

The Nigeria international says the Blues are desperate to be back in the competition as they do not feel the same "buzz" when playing on Thursday nights in the Europa League
Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel is desperate not to miss out on Champions League football next season and avoid playing on Thursday nights in the Europa League.

The Blues qualified for Europe's elite club competition this term by lifting the trophy last May, only to suffer a group-stage exit to become the first defending champions to be knocked out in the first round.

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Chelsea now find themselves in the Europa League quarter-finals, with a healthy 3-1 lead over Rubin Kazan from the first leg - but Mikel says, despite having a chance to win the second-tier competition, Champions League qualification is still the No.1 target.

"No disrespect to the Europa League but when you saw the game on Thursday, it was not [the same]," Mikel told the Evening Standard. "You get that buzz when you hear the song of the Champions League, it's different. I don't know [what the Europa League song is].

"We want to be involved in the Champions League again next season. We've been used to it, those kind of special nights, and we want to get it back. I think for us and the fans, Champions League football [is the No.1 target]. It's what this club have always been involved in and as players it's what we want to achieve.

"It's been frustrating to watch [the Champions League games] and see them [teams like Barcelona] play, while we have to play on Thursday nights. I have been here several years and never played football on Thursday nights. So, hopefully, next season we are not going to be in it.

"We want to be in the top four, top three, whatever, we want to be in the Champions League."

Chelsea currently occupy the final automatic group stage qualification spot in the Premier League, with fourth-placed Tottenham lying on the same points return having played a game more and Arsenal two points further back.