The game against QPR was one that will not want to be remembered by many Chelsea fans. However, if it were remembered it would be for David Luiz, Frank Lampard and John Terry who were marauding around the pitch during the second half in passion. With Terry and Luiz pushing forward, Chelsea were left exposed in the second half when down to ten men and this is where John Obi Mikel comes in. Many media and opposition supporters class him as someone who adds little to the Chelsea midfield when in reality he adds a composure, solidarity and quality that is needed when in a midfield with the likes of Ramires, Meireles and Lampard who are naturally attacking.
Out of 74 passes against QPR Mikel completed 64, with a pass completion rate of 86%, considering that for large parts of the second half he was a centre back and the fact that Chelsea were down to nine men this is a rather impressing statistic. 40 of the 74 passes were also forward passes, while only 7 were backwards, a surprising statistic considering that he is a defensive midfielder, even more impressive that you would think that he would be overran in midfield and wouldn’t get time on the ball.
The graphic below shows how he had to change his game in the second half, in the first half he was very central and quite deep. In the second half this is drastically different, he is all over the pitch, all of the defence pushed up in order to go for the equaliser, considering that Lampard and Meireles had to go forward for the equaliser meant that he was the only defensive midfielder and could have been easily outran in midfield. Luiz, Cole and Ivanovic all went forward on a regular basis, even Terry did on occasions but Mikel, as mentioned, had to cover these players in order to keep Chelsea in the game and he did rather well. Although QPR had their chances in the second half they were rather limited considering the two man advantage, Mikel was an integral part of this.
In conclusion, John Obi Mikel is an underrated player of the Chelsea side, a player who’s role is overshadowed by the attacking influences around him. He brings calm to the Chelsea midfield, some would say that he slows Chelsea’s game down but with his accurate passing and control on the ball Mikel is a massively key and influential player if Chelsea are to have any challenge to fight on four fronts.