Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has praised Nigeria international Mikel Obi following his impressive display in an English Premier League match against Hull City on Saturday. Mourinho’s comments came as the Stamford Bridge team prepare for their trip to Derby County for a Capital One Cup match.
Mikel started his second EPL match of the season on Saturday as Chelsea won the game 2-0.
Mourinho said, “John Mikel Obi also had a very positive performance. Once more a big player for us didn’t play – this time Fabregas – and the people who replaced him assumed responsibility.”
Mikel was in the starting team to replace Cesc Fabregas, who was suspended following a yellow card in the loss against Newcastle United.
The Super Eagles midfielder is not known for his goalscoring prowess but followers of the English games are rating him high ahead of the Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup tie at Derby. Mikel scored only the fifth goal in more than eight years at the club in last week’s convincing 3-1 Champions League victory over Sporting Lisbon.
His four previous strikes had also come in cup competitions.
The Nigerian’s fourth is being remembered for tonight’s match because it was during Chelsea’s last trip to Derby in January as they knocked the Championship side out of the FA Cup. It was a day to remember for the anchorman as not only did he cap a fine performance with a rare goal but it was also his 300th outing in the Blues shirt.
Mikel headed in the opener shortly after the hour from Willian’s cross before Oscar sealed a comfortable win with a bending shot.
Mourinho joked afterwards, “I never recognised his (Mikel’s) ability to score goals! I recognise his ability to play the anchor role, keep possession, be comfortable and read the game very well.
“But I never recognised his goalscoring appetite. When I saw he’d scored there was a smile on my face. For some reason, Michael Essien gave him the armband rather than Ashley Cole.
“It may be it made him believe he was a goalscorer. It was important because we were dominating and creating but the goal wouldn’t come.”
The Nigerian is expected to feature again and regain a regular spot with Nigeria missing out of the 2015 Africa Nations Cup.
For the Derby match, Mourinho told Chelsea TV, “We have no reason to rest people, everybody goes. We’re going to play against a top team in the Championship.
“The difference between a top team in the Championship and the teams of the Premier League is very, very small. We played there last year and it was not an easy game.
“The only one that is not going, because he played against Sporting (Lisbon) and I never gave him a break, is Cahill. Cahill doesn’t play, I play Zouma.”
Source: Punch Ng.