With Chelsea managing to hold onto their position at the top of the Premier League, their ridiculous amount of injuries so far this season are maybe a little easier to cope with. Not that they’re not a factor on the odd occasion, particularly in the ‘big games’ where maybe their presence in the side could have made a difference.
Take Michael Essien’s absence for example. The Chelsea midfielder has been missing since picking up an injury on international duty a couple of months ago. Don’t get me wrong, I think John Obi Mikel has done a pretty outstanding job in Chelsea’s midfield so far this season and yet, when it comes to the ‘big games’, if we’re honest, he wouldn’t normally get the nod over Essien. Mikel lacks experience in these games, he isn’t used to playing in them and therefore doesn’t provide the same sort of inspiration as his absent team-mate. That’s not to say Mikel did anything wrong against United or Liverpool (although Roma is a different matter), but the fact is, Essien didn’t play in them and we dropped points, so maybe his absence is costing us more than we’ve realised?
Anyway, that being said, it’s pretty disappointing to hear that despite the word from Chelsea being that Essien is likely to be back around January time, the player himself appears a little more cautious with predictions. Essien says “I think with these injuries you can’t really give it a time, it can be shorter or longer, the time is not that important. The most important is for me to get back stronger. If I come back early, fine, but if it takes a bit of time, fine. At the moment everything is going well. I am recovering very well and it won’t be long before I can go outside and start running a bit.”
Still, whilst Essien’s absence is clearly apparent at times, considering Chelsea no longer have Makelele either, it could have been a lot worse if Mikel hadn’t stepped up as capably as he has done. As Essien himself acknowledges by saying “Mikel is playing fantastic at the moment. I think he needed more games for his confidence and at the moment he has that.”
And with Essien remaining cautious about a return to the side, more games are something Mikel is more or less guaranteed.