There have been three returns to football in the last couple of weeks – we all know about the ‘return of the king’ in Henry, who both scored and swore in his first two games back, and the coming out of retirement of Paul Scholes which caused a mixture of despair and jubilation due to downright blinkered love of the player, yet there was a third return this week to one of the very top clubs in English football – or they used to be – Michael Essien made his long awaited comeback for Chelsea in the match against Sunderland and how much under pressure AVB will have been looking forward to this.
For a side who once had one of the very best midfields in Europe – in fact one so good that even the masters that are Xavi and Iniesta could not embarrass them – unlike each and every time they have faced United – Chelsea are now in vast decline in that area – well in all areas, and the once prolific Lampard is ageing and inexplicably out of favour, and Raul Meireles although not a bad signing hardly a world beater, thus the return of Essien who when fit is one of the best midfielders in Europe is better than any signing Abramovich could have presented AVB with – remember this time last year and Torres!
Essien provides Chelsea with not only the physical presence but pace, sheer ability and endless running from box to box – hence his nickname ‘the train.’ Add to this the potential to get goals and memorable ones at that, and Chelsea could well have just welcomed back the player who could clinch them the fourth spot and final coveted Champion’s League place this season.
There are of course lingering questions over the fitness of Essien, and three serious knee operations in recent memory are far from ideal, especially when you compare this to players such as Owen Hargreaves who has sent more tweets than made appearances on the field due to similar problems, there is of course the risk that the injury will reoccur or Essien will not be the player he once was – it will be here that the presence of Ramires will help Essien, alleviating some of the pressure on the Ghanaian to be that ever present running box to box midfielder, especially in the early part of his comeback.
However, AVB and Chelsea fans will not focus on this, just the fact that they have a fantastic player back in their ranks when they need him most – the club may even feel a sense of satisfaction that it is now and not a month ago that Essien made his comeback – he now avoids having to go to the African Cup of Nations and Chelsea do not have to lose his services for the best part of two months.
The versatility of Essien will also be welcomed, and the player himself has been called ‘one of the very best players in the league’ by manager AVB and we all know how fussy he can be when it comes to liking his players. It would take a brave person to suggest that Essien will not make a difference to the Chelsea side, and despite his return being the least publicised, it could well end up being the most vital of them all.