Hiddink: Mikel can ‘bring balance’

The arrival of new Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink has seen a revival for defensive midfielder John Obi Mikel, who could be set for a big role under the Dutchman.

The Nigeria international has been at Stamford Bridge since 2006, making over 300 appearances for the Blues, but played less regularly during Jose Mourinho’s second spell at the club, with just 26 appearances last season and five so far this campaign.

However, the 28-year-old has featured in all three games under Hiddink so far, putting in an assured performance in their recent 3-0 win over Crystal Palace, and the Dutch coach clearly values his attributes.

"He's the ideal player in my option to bring balance to the team,” Hiddink said. “If the team is not willing to defend well, or hasn't got the right balance, then you'll concede a lot of goals.

"I think John Obi can be one of the key figures in bringing back that balance. On this podium very talented players can explore their qualities.

"He can recover his radar, he reads the game very well, he knows where the strength of the opponent is and knows how to combat that. He has very good sense, he doesn't do it in a brutal way, he's very elegant.

"Someone who can defend so smoothly is very beautiful. I don't expect the decisive final pass from him – he can, but he can also let the other players.”

Mikel will be hoping to get some more playing time under his belt when Chelsea face Scunthorpe United in the FA Cup on Sunday, before returning to league action against West Brom next week Wednesday.