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Mikel not giving up on Chelsea career

John Obi Mikel has pledged not to give up on his Chelsea career without a fight after being frozen out by new coach Antonio Conte.

The Nigerian made 19 starts in the Premier League last season, the joint-highest number he had managed in a single campaign since 2010-11.

That apparent resurgence has not continued under Conte, Mikel not playing a single minute of football in any competition so far this season.

He is hopeful, though, of making an appearance in the EFL Cup against West Ham on Wednesday after overcoming a knock.

“I hope I will get some playing time against West Ham, but it is down to the manager,” the 29-year-old told the London Evening Standard. 

“He has been open and honest with me. I respect him for that. He has explained the situation and I totally understand. When you have been at a club for a long time, these things happen where a club wants to move forward. 

“I just have to be professional [and] work as hard as I can to try and get into the team. I work twice as hard every day and it’s because I appreciate this club.” 

Examining the fortunes of Chelsea’s next opponents, Mikel believes losing the hostile atmosphere and close confines of Upton Park has hurt West Ham as they adjust to life at London Stadium.

“West Ham’s new ground is very good but I think it’s why they have suffered in the league,” he added. 

“It is a big ground, a good pitch and I think clubs go there to express themselves. In a way, every team that goes there feels that both teams are playing away from home. 

“In contrast, playing at the Boleyn Ground was very intimidating. The stands were very close, the fans were right there and the pitch wasn’t that big. 

“West Ham knew how to play on that surface, they were used to it. You could hear some of the things their fans were saying to you and it was unnerving. 

“But in a big stadium like the one they have now, you can’t hear things. It is only a matter of time before they get used to it and they did just beat Sunderland.

“I just hope they don’t show what they can do against Chelsea.”

Tue 25 Oct, 2016
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