Premier League

Mikel pleased with form

Blues midfielder excels in Essien's absence

Mikel: Making the most of chance

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Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel is making the most of his run in the first team following Michael Essien's long-term injury.

The 21-year-old has taken full advantage of Essien's knee injury which he picked up while playing for Ghana in September and recorded his 100th appearance for the club against Arsenal on Sunday.

Mikel has featured in 13 of Chelsea's 15 Premier League games this season and has seen his game improve with every performance.

The Nigerian international was set to join Blues rivals Manchester United but changed his mind at the last minute and arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2006.

Since his arrival there has been no doubt about the midfielder's ability but question marks have been raised over the player's disciplinary record.

Mikel has been sent off three times in the last two seasons but he remains positive about his future at the club despite Essien getting closer to full fitness.

He told Chelsea's official website: "I thought about everything coming into this season, about how to improve my game, how to get myself in the team, and I thought about how to get the cards right.

Improvement

"This is the season where everything I thought about beforehand is happening. I am happy with myself, I am happy about not getting cards because before by this time in the season I would have had one or two reds. So far it has been going well."

Mikel believes that one of the reasons for his good form can be traced back to a game earlier in the season where he felt he fully earned the respect of his fellow team-mates.

He said: "I made a speech before a game at Middlesbrough in the dressing room and after I had finished, John Terry said 'now you are a man'.

"If people like John Terry and Frank Lampard say I am now a man, I am a man. I am really pleased with it and I just want to keep it going."

The youngster admitted that despite being pleased with his own performances the impending return of Essien would give the manager a tough decision to make.

He added: "We will have to see what happens when Michael comes back. He is a great player, so I don't know if I am going to play, he is going to play, or we both play. It is up to the manager."