David Luiz confident Chelsea can re-focus to claim top-four finish

The Blues bowed out of the FA Cup against Manchester City

David Luiz is optimistic Chelsea will swiftly overcome the pain of relinquishing their hold on the FA Cup and refocus on securing Champions League qualification.

Seven trophy chances have now passed by for Chelsea this season after the 2-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City yesterday.

An eighth and final chance remains in the Europa League, where they meet Tottenham's conquerors Basle in the last four.

Chelsea face crucial matches in the Barclays Premier League prior to the trip to Switzerland, beginning with Wednesday's west London derby at Fulham, as they seek to secure a top-four spot and a return to the Champions League they won last May in Munich.

Luiz believes overcoming the disappointment of defeat will not be too challenging and takes confidence from Chelsea's second-half resurgence at Wembley, which was too little and too late to halt City.

"It's not difficult," the Brazil defender said.

"You need to take positive things. For us it was a great game. In the second half we controlled the game, we controlled one big team and created a lot of opportunities.

"In the future we have confidence. I'm always positive.

"We have important games in the future. We need to win. We need to be in the best position in the league and win the Europa League."

Chelsea's defeat came at the end of a run of six matches in 16 days and following Thursday night's Europa League quarter-final second leg with Rubin Kazan in Moscow.

But interim boss Rafael Benitez played down the impact of fatigue, citing the second-half response.

"It's more that City were very strong in the first half," he said.

"We know physically players like Yaya Toure can make a big difference in the middle of the park and also (Sergio) Aguero. They have very good players.

"The first half we didn't show the level that we wanted to show and second half the reaction of the team was quite positive.

"For me the positive thing is we saw in the second half we could do much better."

Chelsea face a deficit in their bid to finish third behind Manchester United and Manchester City, with third-placed Arsenal having the opportunity to consolidate their position ahead of Spurs and the Blues against Everton tomorrow night.

Benitez, who will be the centre of attention at Liverpool on Sunday, added: "We have a massive game coming now this week. We have two games in the Premier League - the target for us - and then after we will start thinking about the Europa League.

"The main one is Fulham on Wednesday. We know it will be tough, difficult, but still we have confidence we can win."

Left-back Ashley Cole is nearing a return from his hamstring injury, but is unlikely to be fit for Craven Cottage, where Benitez is certain to make further changes.

The Spaniard made seven changes to his starting XI between the matches with Rubin Kazan and City, with captain John Terry and Frank Lampard experiencing the unfamiliar roles of being unused substitutes at the national stadium.

Both have been key figures in Chelsea's success over the last 10 years, but Benitez is ushering in a new era before he departs when his contract ends at the end of the campaign.

Lampard, who is two short of Bobby Tambling's club goalscoring record of 202, and Terry are near-certain to be involved at Fulham and will have key roles to play in the remainder of a season where plenty is still at stake for Chelsea.

Luiz appears central to the next generation and has developed more consistency under Benitez, who believes the squad needs strengthening to challenge across the board in future after being beaten in numerous big games this term.

"We saw in the second half that we can play against anyone, if we have the confidence to do it," Benitez told Chelsea TV.

"To be consistent during the season depends sometimes on the squad. If you have the confidence and depth in the squad it's enough for playing in so many competitions."

PA

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