Chelsea cannot catch Tottenham in the Premier League’s top-four race and must rescue their season by winning the FA Cup, captain Gary Cahill conceded after Sunday’s 1-1 draw with West Ham.
Javier Hernandez came off the bench to snatch a late equaliser for the visitors at Stamford Bridge after a wasteful Chelsea had failed to build on Cesar Azpilicueta’s first-half opener, and Antonio Conte’s men now lie 10 points adrift of fourth-placed Spurs with only six league matches left to play.
After the match Conte admitted that he is “bored” of saying his players need to be more clinical in front of goal, and Cahill agrees they have made too many mistakes to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
“If you’re asking me if Tottenham are going to drop eight points plus, it is not going to happen,” Cahill told the Evening Standard.
“A good team is not going to let that kind of lead slip. We’ve done it before when we were top of the league, it doesn’t slip. If you’re a good side, which they are, it doesn’t slip.
“I will be very, very doubtful if that is the situation. The way that me and my teammates play, we don’t give up on anything, but we know that the season hasn’t gone to plan.
“The league is where it is at the minute and we have the FA Cup to rescue the season. The season is about trying to win the FA Cup.”
Chelsea fired 23 shots at the West Ham goal, but a combination of poor execution in the final third and an inspired display from Joe Hart ensured the game was still within reach for David Moyes’ men when Hernandez replaced Edimilson Fernandes with 20 minutes remaining.
Hernandez has now scored on each of the four occasions that he has come on as a substitute at Stamford Bridge, but Cahill was adamant the Mexican should never have been given the opportunity to take two points away from Chelsea.
“It sums up this season to be honest,” he told ChelseaTV. “The amount of chances we had in the first half was incredible. We created them, we started the game really well, but we didn’t take them and obviously 1-0 is a dangerous scoreline against anyone in this League.
“Ruthless is the word. We should have been more ruthless as a team and kill the game off early on. I was just waiting for the second goal. It was all there apart from the end product and that was the frustration for the whole team.
“We’re not just digging out the forwards here. At 1-0 we needed to see the game out at the back. But it seems to be the trend of this season: a little break, ball gets squared back and goal. We got punished and lost three points.”
Liam is ESPN FC’s Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.