The Nigerian midfielder has been one of the Potters’ most consistent performers in recent times, and his boss has hailed him as the reason behind their defensive solidity
Stoke City head into game week 11 of the Championship campaign, having lost just two of their last eleven matches in all competitions, and manager Michael O’Neil has praised midfielder John Obi Mikel for that impressive run.
The Potters prepare for their league clash against Huddersfield Town at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday afternoon, having recorded nine clean sheets in all competitions this season.
Mikel has been an ever-present in the Stoke City lineup since joining the club this summer, featuring in eleven Championship games and captaining the side for their last six matches.
O’Neil believes that Mikel’s brilliant form, playing as a holding midfielder and shielding the back four, has made the Potters better defensively.
“Our number of clean sheets has been impressive,” O’Neil noted at his pre-match press conference, as per Stoke Sentinel.
“I think even going back to the start of this calendar year, I think we rank among the best in the division in terms of clean sheets.
“It’s important how we defend as a team, not just a back four.
“John Obi Mikel has made us stronger in that area as well, we’re stronger in midfield, and we’ve been stronger as a unit in how we defend from the front.”
Mikel, a two-time Premier League winner with Chelsea, is leading Stoke City’s promotion charge this term.
The former former Super Eagles captain is the only Potters’ player to have played every minute of the club’s league matches so far this season, lifting Michael O’Neill’s side to eighth on the Championship table, four points behind leaders Reading.