Jon Obi Mikel: A Key Member Of Chelsea's Midfield

Jon Obi Mikel: A Key Member Of Chelsea’s Midfield

Jon Obi Mikel is a name that evokes mixed reactions among Chelsea fans. Most fans are able to appreciate the hard work he puts in at the heart of Chelsea’s midfield, while there are a few who aren’t able to see past the fact that he provides nothing going forward. The fact is that Mikel’s job is to provide a shield for the back four, so expecting him to be an asset in attack is silly. Then again, it’s an easy mistake to make if you’re a fan. However, when a fully-qualified journalist claims that Mikel is a liability to Chelsea you begin to wonder, “How exactly is he still employed?”

That’s exactly how I felt today when I came across an article titled “Why Don’t Chelsea Buy Someone Better Than Jon Obi Mikel”. The article starts with an expression of surprise as to why Chelsea are offering Mikel a new 5-year deal and further goes on to claim that Mikel is a “liability” in an otherwise strong Chelsea line-up. The writer then compares Jon Obi Mikel’s passing and goal-scoring stats with that of City’s Yaya Toure, blissfully ignorant of the fact that both players perform a different job for their respective teams. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“John Obi Mikel, their Nigerian midfield enforcer, is preventing a world class defensive midfielder from making the Blues an even better prospect. He’s the weak link in a team otherwise brimming with players of real quality….. there are half a dozen central midfielders with more successful passes in England and seven who have enjoyed more touches of the ball. One of those is Yaya Toure, who outshone Mikel in the Community Shield and has continued to embarrass him with some bullish displays for Man City this year. Mikel should be sitting up and taking note, but he’s too busy hiding in Chelsea’s midfield.” (Source: talkSPORT)

Honestly, reading this article made me laugh.

Jon Obi Mikel’s role in Chelsea is one of the most under-appreciated and difficult ones in modern football. He never quite gets the credit he deserves when Chelsea win, yet he is almost always blamed for slowing down Chelsea’s midfield and not helping the team going forward. Anyone with half a brain will tell you that Mikel never contributes to Chelsea’s attacks simply because it’s not his job. His job is to provide a shield for the defence and make key interceptions and tackles that break up the oppositions play, not provide a killer 40-yard pass that leads to a goal. While one cannot doubt the fact that he is still not a complete player, it is absurd to claim that he’s a liability to Chelsea.

Secondly, comparing Mikel to Yaya Toure makes no sense. Yaya is a beast of a player no doubt, and is almost always one of City’s main men in midfield. But the reason he always finds himself in advanced positions in the final third is because that’s his job. Toure’s not expected to sit back and defend. He’s expected to run forward and be involved in City’s build-up play. If you must compare Yaya to anyone in the current Chelsea midfield, compare him to Ramires. Both are box-to-box midfielders who perform the exact same role for their teams. It’s absurd to compare a defensive midfielder to a box-to-box midfielder.

Lastly, this dismissive attitude towards Mikel reeks of a lack of understanding of modern football. In today’s world it is unimaginable for a team to line-up without a proper defensive midfielder.  Even world-class teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona always have an enforcer present in the starting XI. Trust me when I say that defensive midfielders aren’t on the field to make up the numbers. Modern football is attacking and technical. So attacking and technical, in fact, that you cannot simply rely on your defence to keep the opposition at bay. Hence, the presence of a defensive midfielder cannot and should not be underestimated.

Mikel may not be the fanciest player around. He’s not even the most prolific of midfield players in front of goal (bit of an understatement). But he has a job in the Chelsea midfield and he does it well, therefore justifying the new contract that is being offered to him. Enough said.

Shayne Dias 

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32 Comments
  1. Anonymous says

    Nice article. When Man city line up a midfield of Toure, Garcia and Barry, you can expect Toure to operate in an advanced role. The truth is that Toure performs better in attack than defence just like Felani and unlike Mikel who is the opposite. The problem is that Mikel is a very creative player with good passing ability and people have seen him give wonderful passes before. But that is not really his job as he feeds the more creative players to deliver the final ball. If you watch his game properly, you will discover that he often starts most of our attacking moves and his distribution is of high quality. Some people think Tiote or Essien would do better but I very much doubt it. Mikel is Top class and probably one of the top assets of Chelsea right now. For Mr Wenger to come out and say there are no defensive midfielders in the market actually means something. After all, Morinho would have preferred Mikel to Essien just like people prefer Falcao to Torres.

  2. Anonymous says

    Nice article. When Man city line up a midfield of Toure, Garcia and Barry, you can expect Toure to operate in an advanced role. The truth is that Toure performs better in attack than defence just like Felani and unlike Mikel who is the opposite. The problem is that Mikel is a very creative player with good passing ability and people have seen him give wonderful passes before. But that is not really his job as he feeds the more creative players to deliver the final ball. If you watch his game properly, you will discover that he often starts most of our attacking moves and his distribution is of high quality. Some people think Tiote or Essien would do better but I very much doubt it. Mikel is Top class and probably one of the top assets of Chelsea right now. For Mr Wenger to come out and say there are no defensive midfielders in the market actually means something. After all, Morinho would have preferred Mikel to Essien just like people prefer Falcao to Torres.

  3. Appreciate the feedback. And I agree with everything you've said in this comment.

  4. Appreciate the feedback. And I agree with everything you've said in this comment.

  5. thetravdog says

    The guy who wrote that article was moronic, I think Mikel is possibly the player we've been missing since Makelele left, does his job and nothing more so he is constantly underrated

  6. thetravdog says

    The guy who wrote that article was moronic, I think Mikel is possibly the player we've been missing since Makelele left, does his job and nothing more so he is constantly underrated

  7. Zane says

    A journo who doesn't know football indeed. Just shows how clueless his editor must be to allow the article.

  8. Zane says

    A journo who doesn't know football indeed. Just shows how clueless his editor must be to allow the article.

  9. Anonymous says

    It must be an hyocrate article of that writer. He does his work for cfc. I guess he deserves another five years.

  10. Anonymous says

    It must be an hyocrate article of that writer. He does his work for cfc. I guess he deserves another five years.

  11. Anonymous says

    Mikel is an unsung hero!Thats why Chelsea's management recognizes his contribution to the team and RDM can testified to that!

  12. Anonymous says

    Mikel is an unsung hero!Thats why Chelsea's management recognizes his contribution to the team and RDM can testified to that!

  13. Anonymous says

    Totally agree with your analysis, Shayne, John Obi Mikel is one of the very best in the world in his role. Probably only Yann M'Vila and maybe Javí García are at Mikel's level, and Sergio Busquets if you call him a defensive midfielder like Mikel. Mikel-Ramires is a very solid double pivot, even if I'd prefer Mikel and Oscar. Lampard should stay well away from the team, he completely ruins the whole thing regardless of who he plays alongside. Sadly, there is absolutely no role at all for Frank Lampard at Chelsea if we stick with 4-2-3-1. Sounds harsh, but it's true.

  14. Anonymous says

    Totally agree with your analysis, Shayne, John Obi Mikel is one of the very best in the world in his role. Probably only Yann M'Vila and maybe Javí García are at Mikel's level, and Sergio Busquets if you call him a defensive midfielder like Mikel. Mikel-Ramires is a very solid double pivot, even if I'd prefer Mikel and Oscar. Lampard should stay well away from the team, he completely ruins the whole thing regardless of who he plays alongside. Sadly, there is absolutely no role at all for Frank Lampard at Chelsea if we stick with 4-2-3-1. Sounds harsh, but it's true.

  15. King Imitor says

    Well said bro, mikel's role in chelsea is very important.

  16. King Imitor says

    Well said bro, mikel's role in chelsea is very important.

  17. obadiah sonde says

    In recent years, my fellow nigerians (ARSENAL, UNITED FANS) to prescise complain dat cfc changed mikel playing style of play by converting him to a defencive midfielder rather to a forward striker, but in recent international games played he perform excellently even geting the back of d net in the last game.
    I believe his best is yet to come at chelsea.
    Nigerians are proud of him and we thank cfc for granting him another 5yrs deal.
    Sonde mosope
    Lagos. Nigeria.

  18. obadiah sonde says

    In recent years, my fellow nigerians (ARSENAL, UNITED FANS) to prescise complain dat cfc changed mikel playing style of play by converting him to a defencive midfielder rather to a forward striker, but in recent international games played he perform excellently even geting the back of d net in the last game.
    I believe his best is yet to come at chelsea.
    Nigerians are proud of him and we thank cfc for granting him another 5yrs deal.
    Sonde mosope
    Lagos. Nigeria.

  19. Anonymous says

    Going down memory lane, in 2005 under21 WC, Messi won the best player of the tournament and mikel (who is underated today by some people) came second. You don't appreciate what you have until you lose it.

  20. Anonymous says

    Going down memory lane, in 2005 under21 WC, Messi won the best player of the tournament and mikel (who is underated today by some people) came second. You don't appreciate what you have until you lose it.

  21. Anonymous says

    Since Mikel has got to Chelsea, almost seven(7) coaches has come and gone and each with different tactics and philosophy. Mikel has always made their first team and not just the first team but an integral part. Gus Hiddink could not do without him

  22. Anonymous says

    Since Mikel has got to Chelsea, almost seven(7) coaches has come and gone and each with different tactics and philosophy. Mikel has always made their first team and not just the first team but an integral part. Gus Hiddink could not do without him

  23. Anonymous says

    Mikel under different types of coaches with different tactics that had tried all this formations, 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-2-1, and personalities. Yet, he remained a part of their plans and play. No body believed he could break down the ranks of Ballack, Essen, Lampard and even Deco. YES, he has not scored for us nor goes forward. But his importance is unnoticed. from ARTHUR OSADEBE

  24. Anonymous says

    Mikel under different types of coaches with different tactics that had tried all this formations, 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-2-1, and personalities. Yet, he remained a part of their plans and play. No body believed he could break down the ranks of Ballack, Essen, Lampard and even Deco. YES, he has not scored for us nor goes forward. But his importance is unnoticed. from ARTHUR OSADEBE

  25. Anonymous says

    Very impressive of him that in circa 260 games in midfield for Chelsea he hasn't scored and is still regarded as one of our most crucial players.

  26. Anonymous says

    Very impressive of him that in circa 260 games in midfield for Chelsea he hasn't scored and is still regarded as one of our most crucial players.

  27. Unknown says

    You have all spoken well. But the writer of this blog while accusing @talkSPORT, have already canceled out his argument.
    I will take us all through a series of yes and no inorder to limit my comment.
    Let's do it.

    Is Mikel an integral part of CFC team today? Yes.
    Has Mikel been one of the club's highest passers? Yes.
    Does he pass intelligently? No.
    On being the highest passer in the club, are his passes likely to lead to attacking chances being created? No.
    Has CFC as a team completely changed by their new signings? Yes.
    Are this new signings a like for like replacement to the old players? No.
    Did Mikel do well with the old players? Yes.
    Are these old players faster players than the ones present? No.
    Are CFC games played at a faster passing tempo this season? Yes.
    Has Mikel famed passes assisted the faster passes tempo play of the club this season? Well, you reading can answer this.
    @2dmaxo

  28. Unknown says

    You have all spoken well. But the writer of this blog while accusing @talkSPORT, have already canceled out his argument.
    I will take us all through a series of yes and no inorder to limit my comment.
    Let's do it.

    Is Mikel an integral part of CFC team today? Yes.
    Has Mikel been one of the club's highest passers? Yes.
    Does he pass intelligently? No.
    On being the highest passer in the club, are his passes likely to lead to attacking chances being created? No.
    Has CFC as a team completely changed by their new signings? Yes.
    Are this new signings a like for like replacement to the old players? No.
    Did Mikel do well with the old players? Yes.
    Are these old players faster players than the ones present? No.
    Are CFC games played at a faster passing tempo this season? Yes.
    Has Mikel famed passes assisted the faster passes tempo play of the club this season? Well, you reading can answer this.
    @2dmaxo

  29. Santiago Gutiérrez says

    Mikel is an extraordinary player, he puts a little of order when JT is out, this box to box player is the perfect puzzle to start all the attacks since he surely recuperate the 90% of balls. Hope he stays at Chelsea and people realize that his job is very good.

  30. Santiago Gutiérrez says

    Mikel is an extraordinary player, he puts a little of order when JT is out, this box to box player is the perfect puzzle to start all the attacks since he surely recuperate the 90% of balls. Hope he stays at Chelsea and people realize that his job is very good.

  31. Millie Keith says

    Stop criticising Mikel he is not a fancy player but he does his job shielding the defence, his performances in last years champions league games were immense, he rarely gets praise but he keeps his head down and does his job!

  32. Anonymous says

    If he is that good why does nobody want to buy him for 5million? At 27 he should be in his prime?

    It would seem that Jose Mourinho and other managers have also failed to see what he offers as well . Because he does not protect any back four,his name was Makelele.

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