Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has been ruled out for most of January with an injured knee after picking up ligament damage just before halftime in Chelsea's 3-1 loss to Arsenal on Monday. Mikel missed the 1-0 home win against Bolton Wanderers as a result, and is now set to be absent for at least the next three weeks as Chelsea struggle to right their ship after a poor run of form. The Nigerian international had been the only senior midfielder without a major injury problem in the 2010/11 season, despite suffering from a similar issue throughout last year and missing the World Cup to rest for club duty.
At this point in time it is instructive to examine Chelsea's midfield injuries. Michael Essien has been struggling with a toe injury which has kept him out of games off and on. Frank Lampard has played in six matches and only completed 90 minutes once. Yossi Benayoun is out until the very end of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Ramires has missed a few games with an ankle injury and can't-play-footballitis. Yuri Zhirkov still has a knee problem that he picked up while on international duty with Russia last month. Now Mikel is out for a good amount of time too.
Although the Ramires-Essien-Lampard troika did exceptionally well against Bolton Wanderers on Wednesday there's an alarming lack of depth in the squad. Florent Malouda could theoretically drop back into the midfield if worst comes to worst, but the need for Chelsea to reinforce that area of the squad is fairly obvious to all. One possible solution is recalling Michael Mancienne from his loan with Wolverhampton to serve as a backup centre half/defensive midfielder, as his deal includes a clause allowing him to return to London in January, but last anyone looked his knee was hurting too. Chelsea have an interesting problem on their hands here. Anybody have any good ideas on how to fix it?
PS: Josh McEachran is healthy!