Thursday, March 30, 2023

Why This Underrated Midfielder Could Have A Big Role To Play Under Conte At Chelsea

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Arka Tarun Mukherjee
Arsenal fan and football expert, Arka Tarun Mukherjee actually used to play cricket at semi pro level. An ardent student of football tactics, ATM is very passionate about the tactical aspects of the game and has a dream of being a football manager in the future.

John Obi Mikel has been one of the veterans at Chelsea for some time now. The Nigerian midfielder arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2006 and has since spent 10 years at the club making a respectable 372 appearances in all competitions for the Blues. The player has however been on the fringes for the last couple of seasons and has found it difficult to grab a starting berth on a regular basis at the club.

Mikel was signed by Mourinho after a dramatic transfer saga involving Manchester United and quickly became one of the important players at the club in the base of the midfield but when Mourinho took charge of Chelsea for the second time, the Nigerian found it very hard to get into the team. Last season the team suffered and had their worst ever season in recent years but Mikel was still not called for helping out which made him very frustrated. Only after the sacking of Mourinho, Mikel started getting chances to play under Guus Hiddink and played in the midfield or even in central defence due to the injuries of John Terry and Gary Cahill.

With the arrival of another defensive midfielder in N’Golo Kanté things would be very difficult for Mikel apparently but Antonio Conte has reportedly told the Nigerian that he is a part of his plans which has resulted in the player snubbing a move to Turkey. Conte, is a manager who is tactically very flexible and would not be afraid at all to ring some changes taking some harsh decisions in the process. Nemanja Matic would have been the undisputed choice to partner Kanté apparently but after his last season’s performances, Mikel would be in with a real chance. The Nigerian is very good in his short passing and rarely loses possession. He is very adept in his tackling and interceptions as well and can work perfectly in tandem with Kanté in the base of the Chelsea midfield.

It would be very intriguing to see how Conte utilizes Mikel next season along with the other options he has at his disposal. Nevertheless, with the manager giving the player assurances over his future, we would be watching Mikel play for Chelsea a lot more frequently and can turn out to be an important part of the new manager’s setup at Stamford Bridge.

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