Over the last few weeks Michael Essien has returned from injury and although not looking his previous best, he has still looked comfortable on the ball, taking on a different role than when he was at his best, instead of making marauding runs like he used to, he has become more of a defensive midfielder, being strong on the ball and setting up play. Raul Meireles on the other hand has disappointed since coming to Chelsea in the summer. He has looked a shadow of his Liverpool self, not being as attacking, in fact, it could be argued that he has been played as a defensive midfielder under Andre Villas Boas and therefore the influence on play that he has is limited. This article will briefly look at a comparison between Essien and Meireles.
Over the season, Ramires has been a regular starter for Chelsea and has easily been the best midfielder, his energy has been boundless and in key games has been massive, on Wednesday against Napoli his legs were vital in a historic night at Stamford Bridge. Frank Lampard, you could also say has cemented his place in the first eleven with his performance against Napoli, especially considering that the excellent Oriol Romeu has been injured for a while. This leaves one space, which would arguably be between Essien and Meireles.
Essien has recently came back from injury however he has looked well for the level of fitness that he is operating at, as we can see from the above graphic (his stats being on the left) his ground 50-50’s win percentage is more than that of Meireles and his pass completion is at a staggering 92% compared to Meireles 84%. The Portuguese has a better tackle success rate, this however is not why he was bought in. A late replacement for Luka Modric, the ex Liverpool midfielder has only produced one goal in the premier league, albeit an important one v Man City and has only created 2 goals.
Essien’s game has changed since his injury, shown by the ground 50-50’s statistic and the pass completion stat, instead of making runs he has sat in front of the defence and spread play, he has to do this when he is playing with Ramires and Lampard who are both attacking players in their own right. Meireles on the other hand has adapted his game since Liverpool, however this is more to do with the tactics that have been deployed under Andre Villas Boas, in Roberto Di Matteo’s first game against Birmingham he was given a freer role than under AVB and subsequently scored. Personally, Essien would play over Meireles, however it depends on the type of opposition and scenario that the team has to face. The facts show that Essien is better defensively and as such against teams like Arsenal or Manchester City it is best to play the Ghanain, however at home where there is less pressure maybe playing Meireles with his added attacking presence would give Chelsea an advantage. Ultimately, neither of these two players have played at their maximum capabilities, especially Meireles, however Michael Essien adds better shape and control in our midfield game, as shown against Napoli.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) See Demo’s and videos about the Stats Centre & read about new additions to the stats centre.