John Obi Mikel is something of a divisive issue for Chelsea fans. There are some who do not believe that he is worthy of a place in the Chelsea first time and there are some who feel he is a vital, if underrated, part of the Chelsea first-team setup. As you may have guessed, I consider myself one of the latter.
I believe that John Obi Mikel is a key piece of the Chelsea jigsaw as evidenced by our dip in form whilst he was at the African Cup of Nations earlier this year. Whilst the tournament was going on, Chelsea conceded in every game they played with the exception of one.
When Mikel plays the anchor role in front of our defence, he not only allows the likes of Lampard and Ramires to get forward - he also protects us from counter attacks. At times, Chelsea can have seven men forward * which leaves us vulnerable to opposition counter attacks - particularly when David Luiz decides he doesn't want to be a centre back and makes a reckless run forward.
* Two full backs, one centre-midfielder, three Amigos and a striker.
Jose Mourinho was not the only man returning to Chelsea from Real Madrid this summer. Michael Essien returned from a successful loan spell at Real Madrid. I like Essien. He's a talented player but injuries have taken their toll. For the past few years he's successfully kept John Obi Mikel out of the first team and this season Jose has a decision to make. Mikel or Essien? Who will play regularly and who will sit on the bench?
Of course, let's not forget Oriol Romeu. If he can recover from the nasty injury that put him out for most of last season, he can do a better job in the anchorman role than Michael Essien can.
John Obi Mikel will make or break our season. If Jose plays him, he can be almost as good as Claude Makelele. If Jose plays Essien then Chelsea will concede more goals and won't do nearly as well.
If Jose plays Romeu, then Jose is even weirder than we thought.