Michael Essien knows he will literally have a huge job on his hands as he returns to UEFA Champions League action in the heart of the Chelsea FC defence.
Chelsea FC midfielder Michael Essien knows he will literally have a huge job on his hands as he steps back into UEFA Champions League action in an unfamiliar role at the heart of the defence, hoping to stop Liverpool FC scoring the goals that would end his dreams of playing in the final.
Essien was suspended for the first leg at Stamford Bridge, when Chelsea carved out a 1-0 lead to bring up to Anfield for the semi-final second leg, and with regular centre-back Ricardo Carvalho out injured, the Ghanaian international has the daunting prospect of taking on Liverpool's two-metre tall striker Peter Crouch on Tuesday night. "He's the tallest I have ever faced and he is always difficult to play against, but I'm ready," said Essien. "I have never seen a footballer who is taller than him. He can beat me to the aerial balls but I can win balls on the ground."
Crouch tormented Essien when the teams met in the Premiership at Anfield in January. The England forward's flick set up the first goal in a 2-0 win for Liverpool which exposed Chelsea's vulnerability at the back without captain John Terry, who missed the league defeat as he recovered from injury. With Terry in the side again, Essien feels he has less to worry about on this occasion. "It's good to have John beside me. He's more defensive and has more experience than me so he's going to teach me how to do it," said the 24-year-old. "When we lost, JT wasn't here and the boss played me and Paulo Ferreira at the back. It was difficult to deal with Peter Crouch but I think tomorrow will be a different story. JT is back and he is more powerful in the air."
Essien, whose last-gasp strike eliminated Valencia CF in the quarter-finals, is convinced Chelsea have got what it takes to withstand the pressure and reach the UEFA Champions League final for the first time in their history. "The atmosphere in the dressing room is great and the confidence is high. We came here to win and hopefully we can do that but even if we draw, we will be in the final," he said. "We always have the belief in ourselves that we can do it, but we will see what happens."