Juan Mata believes two away wins in the next few days will help cement our place in the Champions League spots.

We make the short journey to Craven Cottage for a west London derby against Fulham this evening before travelling north to face Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday. A maximum of six points would put us back in third spot with five games remaining, and Mata is determined to ensure we are as well placed as possible.

‘We just arrived in the season’s most important moment,’ the Spaniard said. ‘We have seven games to go in the Premier League and have to win as many as we can to play Champions League football next season. It means we need three points at Fulham, and we’ll try to get them.

‘It’s been a little time since we played two Premier League games together but we now have the opportunity to get six points. It will be difficult against Fulham and at Liverpool as well, but we will try to finish the week with 64 points and in a strong position in the league.

‘Hopefully the picture will be clearer after that. With six points it could help us make a gap to our rivals.’

With 18 goals and countless assists this season, Mata is being talked about as a potential Player of the Year. His manager, Rafael Benitez, believes he is in the running.

He has assists, goals and has played a lot of games. When you are playing for a team who only play one game a week you can be good, but Juan has been playing two games a week for months and is doing really well,’ Benitez said.

‘He’s a really good professional and his numbers are fantastic. In terms of his performance on the pitch and in training sessions, it’s not a surprise because we knew him.

‘Game intelligence, that’s the key. He’s very clever, finds space and technically he’s very good. He has good vision and scores goals.

‘These players are difficult to find. He likes to play between the lines, behind the midfielders and in front of the centre-backs. Gianfranco Zola was this kind of player, not the biggest but he had game intelligence and could get into the box at the right time.’

– Tonight’s game can be seen in full on Chelsea TV from midnight.

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