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Matic’s Chelsea return spells bad news for Mikel not Lampard

| 16.01.2014

With space in the Chelsea engine room already at a premium, the arrival of former Blue Nemanja Matic for a sizeable fee is bound to signify less playing time for a few of the current Stamford Bridge cast.

At 35, the obvious candidate to make room is Chelsea’s long-serving midfield maestro Frank Lampard.

However, with Jose Mourinho back at the helm, his special relationship with the England man means that Lamps is not likely to be the one shunted out of the team just yet after making 27 Blues appearances and adding six more goals to his record-breaking tally already this season.

This is especially the case given rumours that Lampard and fellow Chelsea stalwarts Ashley Cole and John Terry will all be offered contract extensions to their soon-to-be-expiring contracts this summer.

Matic, who was named the Portuguese top-flight’s best player of 2012/13 has been described as the complete midfielder, though he is primarily recognised for his abilities to break up play over marauding forward.

If the Serbian is to slot straight into the Chelsea central midfield two, then it seems more likely that he would dislodge John Obi Mikel, who is by far and away the most defensive minded of other options like Ramires and Michael Essien.

Mikel is certainly a physical presence in the heart of midfield, but he stills draws criticism from many quarters for his rather lackadaisical-looking displays on occasions.

Essien has been used sparingly by Mourinho since his return to the Bridge as he was at Real Madrid, though the Ghanaian is not a player who is likely to complain.

Meanwhile, Ramires’ box-to-box energy and drive make him the perfect choice to replace Lampard when he requires a rest or he could even be shifted wide in some games.

However he plays it, Mourinho will be hoping his new £21 man will increase Chelsea’s 5/2-rated Premier League winning chances.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.