Posted on: Sun 06 May 2007

When the team sheet is handed in at 3pm this afternoon, it will be discovered if Michael Essien will continue as Ricardo Carvalho's replacement in central defence against Arsenal.


Alternatively, another player may be deployed there and the Ghanaian moved to one of the other positions he has been asked to fill this season - whether it be right-back, holding midfielder or a forward-running player on the right of midfield.


Despite the impressive versatility displayed this season, José Mourinho has a clear vision of where his player should ideally be used.


'He's a runner and the right-side of midfield is his best position, not as a midfield anchorman because he's too strong and has too much energy for the position in front of defenders.'


The Chelsea manager was speaking during his recent Mourinho Monthly interview on Chelsea TV and also explained Essien's importance in Chelsea's ability to alter tactics and win games late on.


'Normally when we do changes for the last part of the game, other people are tired but he has just finished his warm-up!


'He can make an impact, running from behind and he is very technical. For the last part of a match, he goes forward and he's very strong.'


The bookmakers need some convincing of Essien's ability to score late on, as he did in Valencia and in the home game against Arsenal, with Coral quoting him a long 25/1 to score the last goal of this afternoon's game, but Mourinho adds:


'Michael was even criticised in the first season that the goal was too small for his shots but he's scoring unbelievable goals now. He has strength, good quality, technically very good and also passes well. His contract at Chelsea will keep him here for a long period which is fantastic.'


Following Man United's victory in the Manchester derby, the Chelsea players head to north London knowing they must win against Arsenal today to keep the title race going.