There is no taste in the world like humble pie and after this Saturday it is a taste that still lingers in my mouth. I was one of the people claiming that Chelsea would suffer in the absence of Drogba and Co. during the African Cup of Nations but after the resounding 7-2 thrashing of Sunderland it appears that I was wrong.
Even though Sunderland were understrength (as I have been reminded!) no one can deny the impressive manner in which Chelsea went about thumping the Wearside team.
Although I may have been wrong about that, one thing that that has occurred in their absence that I said would is the fact that the ACN can and will take a toll on players and this is evident with Michael Essien.
After playing just a bit part in Ghana’s 3-1 loss to Ivory Coast on Saturday, Essien limped out of training with what was later revealed as a partially torn medial ligament in his left knee and damage to his meniscus, prompting the Ghana team doctor to rule him out for the rest of the competition and the next 4 weeks.
Although Chelsea will seek a second opinion as Essien is due to have a second scan on Friday in London, if the prognosis of the Ghanaian team doctor is correct Chelsea could very well be in a pickle. Essien was rushed back to play for Ghana, his preparation for the competition was poor at best and now Chelsea will suffer.
The injury would see Essien not only miss vital Premier League clashes including Arsenal at home but also the first leg of the Champions League tie with Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan, both ties I’m sure any Chelsea fan would feel a lot more comfortable seeing him play in because beating an understrength Sunderland is one thing but you will need to be at your best to beat the cream of Europe in Inter Milan and Arsenal.
So although I put my hands up and accept Chelsea have not struggled like I thought they would during the African Cup of Nations, I can say a very loud and very annoying ‘I told you so’ regarding the toll the ACN can have on players and teams even after the competition is finished.