There were a few puzzled looks when Jose Mourinho brought 31-year-old Michael Essien back into the first-team fray at Chelsea, and a few more smug ones when the Ghana midfielder struggled to keep up with the pace of the recent Premier League encounter with Southampton.
But his showing against Crystal Palace suggests he still has plenty to offer the Stamford Bridge side.
Essien completed 81 of 87 passes – more than any other player in the match. He also made 2 successful tackles and 5 clearances, and won 2 of his 3 aerial duels.
But his contribution wasn’t entirely defensive: 19 of his completed passes were in the attacking third, and he completed more successful take-ons than any other player on the pitch (5).
Cynics may well say “it was only Palace”, but the Eagles performed impressively, particularly in the middle of the pitch, where they looked to keep things congested and stop the Blues playing.
Essien dictated the play and in part repaid the faith of the manager he calls ‘Daddy’.