Thursday 22 March 2018

Luiz: Chelsea can rescue the reputation of Premier League

Simon Johnson

David Luiz believes Chelsea can salvage some of the Premier League's diminished reputation abroad by triumphing in Europe for a second season in a row.

If, as expected, Arsenal get knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich next week, it will be the first time there has been no English club in the last eight of Europe's premier club competition since 1996.

Chelsea, who defied the odds to win the competition last season, are one of three Premier League clubs still involved in the Europa League.

But while Tottenham and Newcastle face tough opposition, in Inter Milan and Anzhi Makhachkala respectively in the last 16, Rafael Benitez's side take on the Romanian club Steaua Bucharest. And Luiz is confident they will not let English football down.

"It's important to show the Premier League is the best league in the world and we have an opportunity to prove that," said the Brazilian.

"Big clubs need to win big titles and big games. Chelsea have a strong team, we all play together. It can be difficult when you lose because people try to put pressure on us, but we have a great family here and great players. "

The build-up to the first leg in Romania's capital has been far from ideal, with chief executive Ron Gourlay warning Benitez that a top-four league finish is a must.

Chelsea, who are playing their 50th game of the season this evening, are just five points above Arsenal in fourth and have the distraction of an FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday to come.

When asked whether he was worried he could be fired before the end of the season Benitez said: "Now we are here in the Europa League we will try to win, after there will be Old Trafford and then we will concentrate on what's happening in the league.

"We know that all the competitions are important and if we finish in the top four everyone will be happy."

Chelsea captain John Terry is set to return to the starting line-up, but Ramires and Victor Moses are rested, while striker Demba Ba is cup-tied. (© Independent News Service)

Steaua Bucharest v Chelsea,

Live, ESPN, 6.0

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