Terry demands top-four focus
John Terry has told Chelsea to focus on securing a place in the Barclays Premier League top four after Thursday's Europa League victory put them on the verge of a second knockout semi-final.
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26. John Terry
After the Easter Monday defeat of Manchester United set up a Wembley FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City, last season's Champions League winners beat Rubin Kazan 3-1 in the Europa League quarter-final to take a commanding lead into next week's second leg in Moscow.
Terry was an unused substitute against United after featuring in the loss at Southampton fewer than 48 hours earlier when the Blues slipped to fourth in the Premier League.
The former England captain has now urged his troops to claim a third successive Stamford Bridge win against Paolo Di Canio's relegation-threatened Sunderland on Sunday to consolidate their place in a Champions League qualifying spot.
"We must win and keep winning games in the league and really push," Terry said.
"Because that is what this club feeds off - the Champions League. We must be involved in that."
Defeat at St Mary's Stadium saw Chelsea slip back from third place, two points behind Tottenham, but with a game in-hand, while Arsenal are two points behind the Blues in fifth.
The London derby between Chelsea and Spurs has been rearranged due to a clash with the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday week and when it takes place it could now effectively be a play-off for third place and an automatic spot in the Champions League. The fourth-placed side will have to negotiate qualifying, with the fifth in the Europa League.
If the consequences of missing out on Champions League football are unthinkable for Chelsea, this weekend's opponents Sunderland face a similar battle - for their Premier League survival.
Their plight and miserable run prompted the replacement of Martin O'Neill with Di Canio.
Terry did not expect Sunderland to be fighting for their safety and expects Di Canio's arrival to galvanise the Black Cats.
"It's going to be really tough," Terry said.
"A new manager has come in, a fantastic player he was as well. He's certainly going to have them up for it.
"You could see how well organised Swindon were over the short period of time he was there.
"He'll show passion. I've read a few things: he's told them 'tell your wives and your families it's going to be a lot of long days and hard work'.
"I think that's what they need because they're a great club, they've got a great set-up there and a great set of fans. The players are really good as well.
"It's surprising to see them down there, when we've seen them fight for so many years.
"They'll certainly be fighting and coming here hoping to pick up something."
Terry may return to the bench for Chelsea's fourth game in nine days after conceding a penalty against Rubin Kazan.
The away goal increases the anxiety as Chelsea bid to seal their last-four place in the Europa League next week in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.
It was the scene of their 2008 Champions League final penalty shootout defeat to Manchester United, when Terry missed a penalty.
Terry felt aggrieved after he was penalised for handball when a shot struck his upper arm.
"It definitely wasn't (a penalty)," he said. "Someone said after I had 0.2 of a second to get out of the way of it. "My arms were down by my side and he (referee Gianluca Rocchi) booked me as well."
The spot-kick was awarded and converted by Bebras Natcho just before half-time after Chelsea appeared to be cruising when Victor Moses doubled the advantage gained from Fernando Torres' opener.
Torres then scored his second - doubling his tally for 2013 with his 11th goal under Benitez - to restore a two-goal lead.
Moses praised Torres, who has so often appeared burdened by his £50million price tag but now has 18 goals this season.
"Everyone is behind him, he's a natural goalscorer," Moses said on chelseafc.com.
"He's been working hard in training and scoring regularly, he scored two here and that will help bring his confidence back."
With Demba Ba ineligible in Europe, Torres is set to drop to the bench against Sunderland and return to the team in Moscow seeking to seal a semi-final place.
Moses added: "It wasn't an easy game but I think 3-1 was a fair result and now we can look forward to the second leg.
"The most important thing is to win games, we've got quality players and hopefully we'll be good enough to win the competition."