MIKEL: READY AND WILLING

Whether he starts the game or is called upon from the bench, John Mikel Obi is prepared for the challenge of Stoke tomorrow.

The Nigerian has featured as a substitute in our two most recent wins, against Southampton and Sunderland, entering the fray with the game delicately poised and his side a goal ahead. In both instances, the midfielder helped relieve some of the pressure as the Blues closed out vital victories.

Before the trip to Stoke, Mikel has been telling the official Chelsea website what he expects from the Potters and how he adapts when he enters the field of play with the game already in full flow.

'I think Stoke have been trying to do something different with their play,' Mikel says.

'But I think tomorrow they are going to go back to the normal routine of playing longer balls and trying to pick up the second ball. If they try to play we've got good quality that can withstand that.

'They are definitely going to go with their strengths and we are ready for it. Hopefully tomorrow we are going to get a good result.

'It is difficult coming in when it's getting tough for the team,' the 26-year-old notes. 'But whenever the manager calls on me to start or come off the bench I'm always ready to do my job, help the team and make sure we win.'

Mikel was recently rewarded for a fine 2013 - that has included lifting continental trophies for club and country - with the Nigerian Sports Person of the Year award. He has been looking back on a fine period in his career which he hopes extends to next summer's World Cup in Brazil.

'I'm happy but not just for me, also for the team and the way we've played this year. It's been a pretty special year for the Nigerian national team. Winning the African Cup of Nations really means a lot to me and to the country as well.

'We've been on a very good run. We haven't lost to any African teams for the past year-and-a-half; the only defeats we have had in that time have been in the Confederations Cup. We're going to the World Cup with the intention of doing well.

'It's been a very special year, winning the Europa League for Chelsea as well, and the year before that winning the Champions League. Everything has been working out in the past couple of years.'