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MIKEL OBI FLOURISHING IN CENTRAL DEFENCE FOR CHELSEA

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John Obi Mikel is showing his versatility at Chelsea with fine performances in an unfamiliar role in the middle of the defence as oppose to his preferred role in the midfield.

Interim manager of Chelsea, Guus Hiddink first played the Nigerian in central defence against Swansea City on the 9th of April following a horror first half show from Matt Miazga who was playing his second game for the Blues.

Miazga was easily bullied by the Swansea front men forcing manager Guus Hiddink to withdraw the teenager during the half half break for Oscar who took over from Mikel’s role in midfield while the Nigerian moved to centre back.

Mikel did enough to convince Guus Hiddink that he can play in the role he first played in 2013 for Chelsea during their pre season tour with a strong second half performance which earned him another start in central defence against AFC Bournemouth last weekend.

29 year old Mikel did enough to earn himself a spot in Garth Crook’s team of the week column for the weekend of the 24th of April.

Crook described his performance as near flawless and a proof of why he has survived Chelsea’s constant managerial change in his 10 years stay at Stamford Bridge.

“I had to see this performance by John Mikel Obi at centre-back to believe it. Because of injuries to three prominent defenders, Mikel partnered Branislav Ivanovic at the heart of Chelsea’s defence at Bournemouth and looked as if he had played there all his life.

Apart from one moment when he went to ground and was lucky not to give away a penalty, the normally dependable defensive midfielder was outstanding.

Here is a player who has played under every Chelsea manager during the last 10 years – which speaks volumes. The relationship between Guus Hiddink and Mikel is evident, as the player has been ever-present since the Dutch manager returned to Stamford Bridge. The Nigeria captain must be an exceptional man to have survived the turbulence associated with the club,- not to mention the turnover of playing staff”.

In the game against Bournemouth he had a pass completion rate of 90% and appeared so much at home in his new role in central defence.

Daniel Martins.