Michael Essien's timely return to fitness and form will
be key to the remainder of Chelsea's season.
Chelsea are on the
up, there's no doubt about that, and while I still maintain that it's too late
to catch Manchester United, I think Guus Hiddink's side are the one team that
can at least push them all the way.
I see no reason why Chelsea can't go the rest of the season
unbeaten - and that is exactly what they need to do if they are to keep up the
pressure on the champions.
Since Hiddink took over at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have been unrecognisable to the team
that were struggling for form under Luiz Felipe Scolari.
The Dutchman has nothing to lose and has been able to
bring the best out of certain players who had previously been horribly
Didier Drogba has been a case in point, but I believe
the return of Essien to be far more important to Chelsea than the Ivorian striker's recent
upturn in form.
The midfielder is player I like a great deal. He seems
to have it all.
His positional play is exceptional, he has pace and he
is an intelligent all-round footballer.
He is disciplined yet knows when to get forward to make
crucial contributions to the game - just think his goal against Manchester City.
And he may still be coming back from injury, but he can
run and run and has a great engine on him.
All those attributes have been sorely missed due to the
knee injury he picked up earlier in the season, and six months without the
powerful Ghanaian has certainly taken its toll of the team's league
John Obi Mikel has done a job in there, but he is no
Michael Essien, who gives the side so much more
And even if the Premier League proves too big an ask for
Chelsea this season, I believe the return of their most dynamic player could yet
spur them on to glory in the Champions League.