Mikel’s warning to defenders - beware Chelsea’s firepower

CHELSEA midfielder John Obi Mikel fears for defenders in the Barclays Premier League as the Blues prepare to restore normal service against Manchester City tomorrow.

Chelsea crashed out of the Carling Cup when losing 4-3 to Newcastle on Wednesday night, with injuries to Salomon Kalou, Yossi Benayoun and Gael Kakuta compounding a miserable night for the Blues.

The trio are unlikely to be involved in the lunchtime clash against City at Eastlands and there has been speculation Frank Lampard has suffered a further setback in his rehabilitation from hernia surgery and will also miss out.

Chelsea rested a host of first-team players for the home defeat by Chris Hughton’s Magpies but they are set for much-needed recalls as Carlo Ancelotti looks to build on an unbeaten start in the league. Chelsea have secured five straight league wins over West Brom, Wigan, Stoke, West Ham and Blackpool but City will present them with a different type of challenge.

However, Mikel is warning that any defender facing Chelsea must be running scared after the Blues smashed in 21 goals in their opening five league games.

He said: “If I was a defender playing against Chelsea, I would be very scared because you don’t know where we’re going to come from – we have Ashley Cole bombing forward on the left side all the time. So it is hard to know what to expect when we have all these players bombing forward all the time.

“If you look at our front three, none of them have a static position, they are all moving around. It is the same with the midfield although I tend to stay a little bit more because I cannot afford to leave that position.’’

City boss Roberto Mancini could have only three fit defenders for tomorrow’s clash and may have to field an emergency left-back if Micah Richards fails to recover from injury.

Mancini is desperately short of defensive options and if Richards is ruled out by his hamstring injury, City will have only Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany and Kolo Toure as certain starters in their backline.

Ancelotti was not overly concerned by Chelsea’s exit at the hands of Newcastle but the injuries to Benayoun and Kalou were more worrying. Lampard is understood to have suffered a setback in training and now faces a race against time to be fit for the trip to Eastlands.

However, Chelsea have yet to confirm his rehabilitation programme has been interrupted.

Meanwhile Newcastle’s two-goal hero Shola Ameobi hailed the win at Stamford Bridge as “a classic to remember for years to come”. The striker, who put Newcastle 3-1 up before scoring the last-minute header to clinch victory in the seven-goal thriller, said: “It was a fabulous result for the team and for me to get two goals, including the late winner, which made it a very special night.’’


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