–As Chelsea look to avenge first leg defeat
By Babatunde Alao:
Super Eagles midfielder, John Mikel Obi is expected to retain his starting shirt in the Chelsea line-up today when the Blues play host to Newcastle United at the Stamford Bridge.renew their EPL title chase quest.
Mikel could only watch from the bench on New Year day as Chelsea were taken to the cleaners by a rampaging Tottenham Hotspurs side who forced the Blues to their knees courtesy of a 5-3 pounding at the White Hart Lane. The only positive for Nigerian fans in that Chelsea loss was that Mikel was spared the flak this term as Nemanja Matic could do nothing to stop the Spurs whitewash. It would be recalled that Mikel was roundly blamed by some English pundits for his inability to hold the midfield in Chelsea’s 2-1 away loss to Newcastle United early last month while Matic was missing through suspension. Mikel then returned to action for Chelsea last weekend in the 3-0 spanking of Watford in an FA Cup tie.
Chelsea are currently tied on points (46 apiece) and other statistics with Manchester City in the summit of the EPL table and the Blues will not only be desperate to make it pay-back-time against Newcastle, but to also ensure they retain their position on the top of the ladder which they currently occupy ahead of Man City only by alphabetical order. To this end, Jose Mourinho could opt for the pair of Mikel and Matic to fortify the Blues midfield to forestall any eventuality in a match Chelsea fans across the world has dubbed ‘must-win’.