We continue our Ultimate XI feature this week by looking at the best midfielders to play for Chelsea over the past two decades. We have shortlisted six players who have shone brightly in the engine room of the Blues since the turn of the Millennium and want you to select two of them in the poll below to feature in the Ultimate XI.
Chelsea debut: Newcastle United (h), Premier League, 19.08.01
Honours: Premier League 2005, 2006, 2010, FA Cup 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, League Cup 2005, 2007, Champions League 2012, Europa League 2013, Footballer of the Year 2005, Chelsea Player of the Year 2004, 2005, 2009
Super Frank was signed from West Ham in 2001 for a reported £11 million fee but repaid the sum many times over during his brilliant Chelsea career. In addition to becoming our all-time top scorer with 211 goals, he is also fourth in Chelsea appearances with 648 games and holds the Premier League’s record for most consecutive appearances by an outfield player with 164 from August 2001 to December 2005.
Chelsea debut: Tottenham Hotspur (h), Premier League, 13.09.03
Honours: Premier League 2005, 2006, FA Cup 2007, League Cup 2005, 2007
He was so good as a defensive midfielder playing in front of his team’s backline that pundits often referred to his position as the ‘Makelele role’. The Frenchman more than made up for his lack of size with his intelligence, energy and diligence which helped him break up opposition attacks and provide a platform for the Blues to spring forward in attack during five excellent seasons at the club.
Chelsea debut: Arsenal (h), Premier League, 21.08.05
Honours: Premier League 2006, 2010, FA Cup 2007, 2009, 2012, League Cup 2007, Champions League 2012, Chelsea Player of the Year 2007
Signed from Lyon in 2006, Essien was a popular figure with Chelsea fans, combining a steely presence in midfield with a keen eye for goal. An excellent box-to-box midfielder, the Bison found the net 25 times for the Blues and won the club’s Goal of the Season award twice with spectacular efforts against Arsenal in 2006/07 and Barcelona in 2008/09.
John Mikel Obi
Chelsea debut: Liverpool, Community Shield, 13.08.06
Honours: Premier League 2010, 2015, FA Cup 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, League Cup 2007, 2015, Champions League 2012, Europa League 2013
He may not have been the most prolific of players with six goals in 372 Chelsea games but John Mikel Obi was a key man during his decade at the Bridge, anchoring the team with his tidy and unselfish work in midfield. The Nigerian was a man for the big occasion, standing tall during our Champions League run in 2012 when he played every minute from the quarter-finals onwards.
Chelsea debut: Burnley (a), Premier League, 18.08.14
Honours: Premier League 2015, 2017, FA Cup 2018, League Cup 2015
A former Arsenal captain, Cesc Fabregas won over Chelsea fans in his four-and-a-half season spell at the Bridge with his outstanding passing ability which regularly split open the tightest of defences. In addition to his numerous assists for the Blues, including 41 in the Premier League, the Spaniard also netted 22 goals including an extra-time brace against Leicester City in the Carabao Cup.
Chelsea debut: West Ham (h), Premier League, 15.08.16
Honours: Premier League 2017, FA Cup 2018, Europa League 2019, Footballer of the Year 2017, Chelsea Player of the Year 2018
N’Golo Kante was outstanding in his first season with the Blues as he was named Footballer of the Year and PFA Players’ Player of the Year after helping us win the Premier League title in 2016/17. The hard-working Frenchman covers plenty of ground, is one of the best ball-winning midfielders in the game and also has a good eye for goal with 11 for the Blues including strikes against Liverpool and Manchester City this season.
Who are Chelsea’s best midfielders of the past 20 years? Vote below in the Ultimate XI poll!