LOOKING BACK: NO 12

Posted on: Mon 25 Jun 2012

The 2011/12 campaign was a mixed one for John Mikel Obi, but after losing his way in the middle of the season following a lengthy lay-off, he forced his way back into the side, playing arguably the best football of his career at the club.

Off-field issues, with his father briefly abducted, ensured it was a tricky start to the campaign for the Nigerian midfielder, and while he almost scored what would have been the rarest of goals in the opening day draw away at Stoke City, he deserved a great deal of credit simply for putting himself up for selection.

An injury sustained in the 1-1 draw at Tottenham in December saw Mikel sidelined for almost two months, and with Oriol Romeu impressing in the holding role in his absence, he struggled to force his way back into the side.

The departure of Andre Villas-Boas, and subsequent elevation of Roberto Di Matteo saw him regain his place, and after a string of solid displays he once again became a regular.

Di Matteo's favoured 4-2-3-1 formation saw him play alongside another deeper midfielder, more often than not Frank Lampard, and the system allowed him to flourish.

As well as offering the defence protection, the onus was on him to feed the more creative players as early as possible, a role carried out to perfection in the closing stages of the season.

He was involved in the winning goal in the FA Cup Final and having been an unused substitute during the 2008 Champions League Final, Mikel was desperate to be involved in Munich, but after a number of impressive performances his inclusion was never in doubt.

Some Blues supporters argue Mikel had his finest game in a Chelsea shirt against the German side, and it's hard to disagree.

Appearances: 27+10,
Minutes on pitch: 2,681