Michael Essien has compared his own and Chelsea's season to a sandwich, vowing the sweetest part was yet to come ahead of the Premier League title showdown with Manchester United. The Blues travel to Old Trafford with the possibility of completing the greatest comeback in the competition's history, having clawed back a 15-point deficit on the leaders with a run of 25 points from 27. Victory on Sunday would put them top for the first time since November, after the club's worst run in the league for almost 15 years saw them crash to fifth.
"It has been a sweet and sour season," Essien wrote in his blog on Chelsea's official website. "To use a sandwich analogy: sweet bread at the top, sour filling, and more sweet bread at the bottom. We started the season extremely well, had a sour middle part and are now ending strongly.
"We have hit a good run of form lately and have managed to haul ourselves back into the title race. We have to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford this weekend to ensure we are in the driving seat, and I can assure you we are up for it. The team is playing well and I have no doubt we will give it everything we have to beat Man United."
Essien, whose absence - along with those of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba - coincided with Chelsea's mid-term slump, added: "It is fair to say it has been a mixed season for me.
"It started very well for me and, as the team kept winning, my form just got better. But then suddenly my fine form became average for whatever reason. After my red card against Fulham, I picked up a slight toe injury and struggled to show the good form and performances I had shown at the start of the season.
"The team was struggling for form and we were all trying but it just wasn't coming off. I was asked by friends many times what I felt the problem was and I couldn't explain. All I can say is when you hit a bad patch, you think about everything too much.
"The simplest pass becomes a difficult task because you spend time thinking rather than just letting things flow. When you are on form, you receive a pass and just let it go. But when you are down, you think too much and lose possession.
"I am glad to say after many weeks working hard on the training pitch, it suddenly clicked and now we are in with a chance. My season has been a sandwich one too and I am hoping the end will be extremely good."
Villas-Boas modest on Mourinho comparisons
Winning the title may make billionaire owner Roman Abramovich think twice about jettisoning manager Carlo Ancelotti. Speculation is rife about who will succeed the Italian should he be given the boot, with Porto's Andre Villas-Boas among the favourites.
The 33-year-old worked under Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge and has been dubbed the new 'Special One' after beating several records set by his former mentor in Portugal. However, Villas-Boas told the Daily Telegraph: "People think I am the next one but I am not the next one.
"I am a normal coach who benefits from having top players, and one day I will not benefit from having this type of talent. I am not the 'Special One'."