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Chelsea's John Obi Mikel fed up with Europa League

Updated: Tuesday, 09 Apr 2013 16:44 | Comments

John Obi Mikel: 'I don't even know the Europa League song'
John Obi Mikel: 'I don't even know the Europa League song'

John Obi Mikel has admitted to struggling for motivation for Chelsea's Europa League campaign and is desperate to return to the "prime time" of the Champions League next season.

A 2-1 win over Sunderland saw Chelsea climb to third in the Barclays Premier League and return to the Champions League qualifying places ahead of knockout action in Moscow and north London this week.

The Blues will bid to complete a Europa League quarter-final aggregate win over Rubin Kazan on Thursday and then continue their FA Cup defence with victory in Sunday's Wembley semi-final with Manchester City.

But Mikel's primary focus is on securing a top-four place in the Premier League and a return to the tournament Chelsea won in 2012.

"Champions league football is what this club has always been involved in and that is what we as players want to achieve," Mikel said.

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

"No disrespect to the Europa League, but when you saw that game on Thursday... but when you get that buzz, and you hear the Champions League song, it's different.

"And we have been used to it, to those nights, those special nights, and we want to get them back, we want to be involved again in the Champions League next season."

"Thursday nights, Channel 5? Hopefully next season we are not going to be in it" - John Obi Mikel

He added: "I don't even know the Europa League song. I have been here seven years and I have never played football on Thursday nights.

"It has been kind of frustrating to watch (Champions League matches) - and we have to then play on Thursday night.

"What do they say? Thursday nights, Channel 5? Hopefully next season we are not going to be in it - we are going to be prime time."

For Chelsea to return to Europe's elite club competition will require a delicate balancing act, due to their congested schedule.

The Blues on Wednesday travel to Russia seeking to turn their 3-1 home win into an aggregate triumph before returning to London to continue their search for a fifth FA Cup in seven seasons.

Chelsea had to grind out a victory against Sunderland, in their fourth game in eight days, and their schedule necessitates rotation.

Mikel, who in January won the African Nations Cup with Nigeria, said: "You can say some of us are a bit tired. We knew it was going to be tough with the run of games that we have, so we were kind of prepared for it.

"You want to keep that rhythm going, that level going, and when sometimes you have been rested and you come back, you kind of lose that rhythm.

"It is hard to take, but you know it's something that everyone has accepted since the manager came in."

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