Before the season began and to some extent the beginning of the season, a lot of people were not 'comfortable' with Mikel as a starter in our midfield. Some of the concerns were reasonable but some were absolutely baseless. But it would be safe to say that in the past few weeks Mikel has been one of the best Chelsea players if not the best.
I have always said that Mikel has amassed around 250 appearances in 6 seasons under different managers so there has to be something that all these managers like about him, and of-course all these managers have a little bit knowledge about football, more than us fans at least. Recently even RDM has labelled Mikel as the 'unsung' hero of the squad as he has been ever present in RDM's lineup
So what do these managers like about Mikel that we fans fail to see? Thats a tough question to answer for anyone other than the managers who have managed him or the ones who have a lot of knowledge about football, neither of which i am not. But since i am bored and i have been really impressed by Mikel's performance recently, i hope you all will forgive me for giving it a shot.
As everybody can see, Mikel is a strongly built athlete with immense physical power, which is one of the attribute required to play in the position he plays in. But more than the physical presence i think it is the discipline in his game that all these managers liked about him. By discipline i mean the positional discipline and tactical discipline which he showcases. He rarely bombs forward to join the attack or tries to score goals since that is not his role and he completely understands it. Even if he is found in an advanced position(which happens very rarely) he never tries to be selfish and concentrates on keeping the possession and pass it to one of the attacking players. I think this aspect of his game alone should be appreciated since clearly he puts his team before himself and he is not ashamed of the fact that he has a very bad record to his name of not scoring a goal even after playing in so many matches. One more important aspect of his game is that he is very rarely caught out of his position, i have seen a lot of complain about Mikel's game but i am sure no one feels that being caught out of his position is one of the flaws in his game. This is very important since he occupies a very important position in the field and if he gets caught out of his position it leaves a very large gap in a dangerous area from where the opposition can attack us from right left and centre. Another aspect of his game which i have started to like recently is how calm he is with the ball at his feet, i never thought he had this quality but in the past few games, he has showcased immense confidence and ball keeping ability which is very nice. Don't know what i am talking about?
This might help.
I know its only one instance and doesn't prove that he has the skill, but its still something to come out successfully after dribbling 2 players in a dangerous position.
Yes i know that Mikel is not perfect and he does have flaws in his game like his passing and a tendency to commit mistakes in a dangerous position, but that doesn't change the fact that he is and has been a great servant to the club and is a very important piece in the jigsaw we have created over the years.