After watching Chelsea battle their way past Sunderland on Tuesday night, the perfect end to a chaotic few days in SW6 I was left with a few things to ponder on the performance of two of the players on the pitch.
The first being more of a statement than an analysis: Nicolas Anelka still oozes class.
Granted, during the match we had an early scare by giving away two ludicrous goals to let our hardworking but blunt opponents back into the game. Those chances aside Sunderland never really had a sniff. We retained possession whilst playing some brilliant one touch football and our defence looked resolute saw off any supposed threat that Sunderland sent forward.
With all the hype and excitement of new signings, great credit must go to some pretty special performances from some old faces in the Chelsea side. Nicolas Anelka had his best game for a long time, with Carlo opting to deploy the talismanic Frenchman behind the forwards, which bought out an exceptional and energetic performance. He worked hard going forward, even harder in defence and was typically creative and threatening. Eventually he was rewarded and got the goal his performance deserved in the dying minutes of the game but there was no doubt that Nico was man of the match for both Chelsea and Sunderland fans. In my opinion It’s about time Anelka had a game like this to show that he still has real quality and that any speculation, now matter unconfirmed, that he was off to Liverpool in the Torres deal would have been a terrible decision for both the player and for Chelsea. Everyone knows what Nicolas Anelka is capable of and of the class he exudes when on song, he needed this performance to show that he will not be moving aside easily for the incoming Chelsea number 9.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, John Obi Mikel had a poor game. He was run ragged by the Sunderland midfield and was directly involved for both of Sunderland’s goals. Although competing well physically, Mikel didn’t control the pace of the game like he usually does or break up play in the way that is typical of him. Going off with cramp at the end of the game summed up his evening. He’s got a real battle on his hands to win a place in front of Ramires who has come on spectacularly in recent weeks, being arguably the best player of our ‘bad moment’.
There is much room for debate on the presence of Mikel in the side, at the beginning of the season he appeared to have matured into the talent Blues fan’s had been patiently waiting for, however his injury and loss of form coincided with our awful run of form, and the improved condition of Ramires has not gone unnoticed by supporters and the coaching staff. Whilst Anelka has seemingly been inspired by the competition for places new signings present, Mikel it would appear has frozen in the face of this challenge. We can only hope he will rise to the occasion.