MICHAEL TO RECLAIM CENTRE GROUND?

Posted on: Sat 17 Feb 2007

Seven days after an anticipated return to his more accustomed position failed to take place, one of the questions to be answered against Norwich today is whether Michael Essien will be restored to the Chelsea midfield.

 

After winning at Charlton on February 1, José Mourinho declared his wish that the Ghanaian had played in central defence for the final time. The scheduled return of John Terry to the starting line-up against Blackburn last Saturday was the catalyst for this hope.

 

But when Ricardo Carvalho was struck with illness a week ago, Essien once again found himself back in the position he has filled since early January.

 

Assistant manager Steve Clarke refused to be drawn on where or if the player would be deployed against Norwich as he looked forward to the game. The FA Cup third round against Macclesfield remains the only time this season he was not selected for the starting eleven.

 

But Clarke did confirm Essien's powerhouse play had been missed in the centre of the park.

 

'He is great player anywhere and he has proved his versatility,' he said.

 

'But his preferred position is midfield and we are happy when we have him in there because he gives an extra dimension to the team.'

 

Meanwhile, John Terry couldn't help but be impressed with his stand-in as he watched from the sidelines.

 

'When Michael went back there, it was a case of him being the best option left in the side,' said the captain.

 

'But honestly, he has been different class. If he is worth £24 million as a midfielder, he'd be worth £52 million as a centre-half, that's for sure.

 

'Week in, week out, he has been one of our best players throughout the season.'