How flexible Mikel fared in defence for Chelsea at Bournemouth

Mikel Obi

Chelsea returned to winning ways on Saturday with a 4-1 victory on the road at Bournemouth.

The Blues ended a three game winless streak following back-to-back defeats to Swansea and Manchester City – preceded by a 2-2 draw against West Ham.

All the fuss generated from the game was about two men. First Eden Hazard, who finally ended close to one year league goal drought by hitting a double.

And secondly, Cesc Fabregas, who once again displayed his passing mastery by contributing three out of Chelsea’s four goals.

With 99 assists, the Spaniard becomes the overall third highest in Barclay Premier League history – drawing level with Steven Gerrard.

Willian and Pedro Rodriguez were also on target for Guus Hiddink’s side but one man shone in an unfamiliar terrain – he is John Obi Mikel.

The Nigeria skipper, who clocked 29 on Friday, started in defence for the Blues for the first time in his career.

Mikel, who began his career as an attacking midfielder, has predominantly been used as a cover for the back-four since his move to Stamford Bridge in 2006.

The former Lyn Oslo star was deployed in a similar position in the second half against West Ham in March and received plaudits for his performance.

Against the Cherries, Mikel partnered Branislav Ivanovic at the heart of Chelsea’s defence and did pretty well in the encounter.

The Nigerian proved his versatility by slotting at the back for Gary Cahill who was unavailable due to illness – while the pair of Kourt Zouma and John Terry were sidelined due to prolong injury.

Mikel had a few awkward moments against tricky customers Joshua King and Lewis Grabban but held his own to shut-off the pair.

The Nigerian who occasionally contributed to the attack during set-pieces, made several interceptions, won most aerial duels battled for – as well as tackles in the encounter.

He was rated 6.72 by popular statistical website, whoscored – his average rating when used in midfield.

It is still unclear if the Blues No 12 will continue in defence in subsequent games – but whatever the case maybe, it is certain Hiddink will definitely not ponder using the Nigerian if need be.

The victory means the West Londoners leapfrogged Stoke City to ninth on the log with 49 points.

They face tricky ties against Tottenham, Sunderland, Liverpool and Leicester City in their remaining four games of the season.