John Mikel Obi has cited Saturday afternoon’s Barclays Premier League game against West Bromwich Albion as one we must win.
We slipped into fourth place with defeat against Manchester City last weekend, but three points today would put us back in the driving seat for a Champions League spot, and after sitting out Wednesday’s FA Cup victory at Middlesbrough, Mikel is determined to play his part.
‘West Brom is a big game for us, we have to make sure we go out there and put on a good performance to get the three points,’ said the Nigerian.
‘Obviously Arsenal and Tottenham are playing on Sunday so they have a difficult derby and one of those teams will drop points, but we can’t afford to worry about that. We have our own job to do and we’re focused on beating West Brom and getting three points. We’re then in a strong position and can sit back and watch that on Sunday.’
The Baggies will be missing on-loan Blue Romelu Lukaku, which Mikel sees as a blow to their chances at Stamford Bridge.
‘Romelu has been doing really well, so he will be a big loss for them but they still have Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long might be available. There is a real threat up front with their strikers running in behind us and we need to pay attention and focus on that, while creating our own chances. If we can do that then we need to score those chances.’
Mikel will be reunited with former Chelsea assistant Steve Clarke, now West Brom manager, who played an important role in developing the raw youngster when he arrived in west London in 2006.
‘I’m not surprised he has gone into management. When I came here he really trusted me and tried to help me,’ Mikel said. ‘I’m also not surprised with the way they have done well this season. They play well as a team and he’s done a good job there but hopefully tomorrow it’s us that get the three points.’
Since Clarke’s departure in 2008, Mikel has continued to learn, and showed his maturity during the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, returning home with international silverware. He is determined to continue adding to his medal haul as we approach the end of the season.
‘Big trophies make you grow very quickly. You don’t notice it yourself but they mature you and give you a confidence in the game,’ he said. ‘I’m 25 and I’ve won a lot of trophies now but I still want to achieve big things with Chelsea. I am hungry to win another Champions League, another Premier League, more FA Cups, and we have to keep working for it, but right now our focus is on winning games in the league and improving our position.’
A clip of John Mikel Obi talking to Chelsea TV ahead of the game can be viewed above with the full interview available on the channel’s online access, and also the ‘Pre-Match at the Bridge’ show at 2pm.