Maurizio Sarri believes Chelsea can secure a top-four finish without needing to win all their eight remaining Premier League games.
The Blues head coach expects all the main top-four contenders to drop points between now and the end of the campaign, admitting it is too tight to put a points target on Champions League qualification.
Chelsea currently sit sixth in the table, trailing fourth-placed Arsenal by three points and four points shy of Tottenham in third.
Fifth-placed Manchester United are on the charge under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer too, leaving Chelsea’s Italian boss loathe to predict just how many points will seal that all-important top-four berth.
“I think that in the last period of the Premier League it will be really very hard for every team,” said Sarri.
“And so I think we can reach the top four also, even if we are not able to win eight matches in a row. We can’t think about points, I think we need to think match by match.
“The best way is to be focused only on the next match at the moment.”
Chelsea’s final tilt towards a top-four finish starts at Cardiff on Sunday, as the Premier League hits full swing after the international break.
The Blues also remain in the hunt for continental honours, with a Europa League quarter-final against Slavia Prague fast approaching.
But a top-four berth retains huge Stamford Bridge significance, with Chelsea itching to hit back to form after a lacklustre 2-0 loss at Everton.
Eden Hazard should be back on Blues duty at Cardiff, but Sarri admitted he remains unsure on the Belgium playmaker’s long-term future.
Hazard’s current Chelsea deal expires in the summer of 2020, with the club keen to tie him down to extended terms amid consistent interest from Real Madrid.
Sarri believes Chelsea must shelve that issue in the short term, while the club chases the strongest possible finish to the current campaign.
Asked for an update on Hazard’s contract situation, Sarri said: “I don’t know. You have two possibilities: you can ask Hazard, or you can ask the club.
“I’m not in charge of the market. For me, Hazard is important at this moment. We need him at the top in the last two months.
“Now we can’t solve the problem.
“The market is closed. It’s not important. I want to respect his decision, but I don’t know at the moment if he has decided or not.”