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MIKEL OBI's BETTER MANAGER

Unlike the Portuguese, Guus HIddink has proven to be the manager who truly appreciates the midfielder.

During the Dutchman’s first spell in charge he started nearly every game and the 2008/09 season, during which Hiddink took over from Luiz Filipe Scolari, was the only season that Mikel has played in more than 30 Premier League games. Almost immediately after he returned in 2015, Mikel went straight back into the starting line-up and has recently started six consecutive league matches for the first time since 2012. The fact that he was rested against Newcastle ahead of the PSG game and not Cesc Fàbregas speaks volumes about how highly Hiddink rates him.

Given how poor Nemanja Matic has been it’s beggars belief that José Mourinho didn’t turn to Mikel earlier. Chelsea were continuously overrun in midfield yet Mourinho ignored Mikel and kept trying to make the Fàbregas/Matic pivot work with a sprinkling of Ramires. Since Mikel came back into the side Chelsea have lost just one game – last night’s game – and they have kept four clean sheets in the seven fixtures he’s started.

What is worth noting is that, despite still using him as a central midfielder, Hiddink isn’t limiting Mikel, particularly when he fields him alongside Matić. He knows that Mikel does have something to offer on the ball. His passing statistic of 90% against PSG on Tuesday suggests as much; he is just wary of leaving the midfield exposed.

It is this versatility that makes him such an important player for Chelsea. When he plays alongside Matić he can switch between defensive midfielder to playmaker depending on the Serbian’s position on the field. However, when it is just him alongside Fàbregas he knows that he has to be more disciplined.

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