Chelsea boss Benitez reiterates top-four aim

Owner Roman Abramovich has made it clear to the Blues coach that he values qualifying for next season's Champions League over any potential success in the FA Cup or Europa League.
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez has reiterated that he has been told by owner Roman Abramovich that he is to prioritise finishing in the top four over any potential silverware the club could win this season.

After lifting both the Champions League and FA Cup last year, the Blues entered this campaign competing in seven different competitions.

However, the west London side have failed to qualify for the Champions League knock-out stages, while their chances of winning a fourth Premier League title have also diminished, while they have already lost the Community Shield, European Super Cup and World Club Championship final this season.

9/2 Demba Ba is 9/2 with Coral to open the scoring in Reading v Chelsea tonight
Benitez has revealed that Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo paid a visit to the club's training ground on Tuesday to inform him that Champions League qualification is a must this season, even if it comes at the expense of success in the FA Cup or Europa League.

Benitez told reporters: "All I can say is what I know. I have had meetings. We were talking about the situation and it's clear for me the priority is the top four and progressing as much as we can in the other competitions.

"In the last 10 days, we had a fantastic game against Arsenal, not such a good game against Swansea, and 50:50 the other day against Brentford. 'We still have the FA Cup and the Europa League, and we can still finish in the top four."

Chelsea are currently 11 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United in third place, and face Brentford in their FA Cup fourth-round replay on February 17.