Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel reveals 'hurt' of poor Premier League campaign


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The Independent Football

John Obi Mikel has revealed how Chelsea's joy at their greatest ever season was tainted by the "hurt" of finishing so far off the pace in the Barclays Premier League.

And the Blues midfielder declared he and his team-mates were determined to slash the 25-point gap to Manchester City and Manchester United in one fell swoop this term and mount a genuine title challenge.

Chelsea spent almost the whole of last season teetering on the brink of their worst campaign since Roman Abramovich bought the club, before ultimately securing an amazing Champions League and FA Cup double.

For some, that rendered their sixth-place finish in the Premier League - by far their worst of the Abramovich era - largely meaningless, but not for a squad used to competing for and winning the title.

Mikel said: "It hurts us that it was such a big gap last season. We spoke about it. We don't want that to repeat itself."

He added: "We don't want a repeat of last season when we slipped out of the top four but, for us, the top four is not the target.

"The most important thing is to win the trophy. We want to regain the trophy."

Chelsea have certainly made a statement of intent on that front in the amount they have spent this summer, but they will need all the new players they can get in a season that sees them compete for silverware on seven fronts.

One of those trophies has already slipped away after they were beaten by champions City in Sunday's Community Shield.

But what was a fourth successive defeat in the build-up to tomorrow's Premier League opener at Wigan did not faze Mikel.

He said: "We're on the right track and if we keep doing what we're doing now, we'll be fine this season.

"It's going to be a long season. It's going to be too many games.

"It's about how you cope with it, how you manage the players and how you get through the games."

He added: "We want to defend the Champions League, we want to win the Premier League and, hopefully, we want to challenge for every cup."

That could be made more difficult as Chelsea gradually try to implement a more attractive style of play and finally bring the best out of Fernando Torres.

"You can see Fernando fitting into the way we want to play and hopefully he can do the job," said Mikel, who did not believe there would be a major change of approach.

"This is what we demand from him. This season, I hope he scores more goals for us."

In the Community Shield, Torres began this season as he ended the last, with a goal, and Mikel added: "We hope he's regained his confidence and that, during the season, he will come back and become the Torres we all know.

"There's no doubt about it, he's put in effort every day in training and you can see that in his game. Hopefully, it's just a matter of things working out for him.

"When he has the chances and puts them away, I think everyone in the team will love him."