The Blues' captain was suspended by the FA for four games on Thursday following an investigation into allegations regarding racial abuse against Anton Ferdinand. The suspension won't take place for at least 14 days, or until an appeal process finishes.
Without their skipper, Chelsea have some figuring out to do.
The defense played fine against Stoke City over the past weekend without Terry, but it wasn't a convincing effort. There wasn't an air of comfort in the back, which Terry usually supplies. Instead it was slightly frantic and desperate, which are things Gary Cahill and David Luiz usually supply.
The team has notched four clean sheets in five outings, but the back line still looks shaky. Without Terry, the traditionally cool defender, this might only get worse.
Losing Terry, though, might not be as horrible as it seems. Despite being at the top of the table, the Blues are not playing very good football. They are doing just enough to keep winning in the league, but they aren't very convincing. Without Terry, maybe the team can band together and improve the product on the pitch.
Obviously, Cahill and Luiz must play well, but the player that can make this suspension go smoothly is John Obi Mikel. The defensive midfielder has taken a lot of flack (from myself included), but it's his chance to prove his worth.
Mikel is a physical presence. He wins the ball in the midfield, and he usually does a good job of retaining possession, albeit at a slow pace. With that said, his biggest problem has nothing to do with his physical skills as a footballer; it's all about his mind.
Mikel must keep a good distance between him and the back line to keep the defense tough. It's been an issue so far this season, leaving Petr Cech out to dry on multiple occasions (most notably against Atletico Madrid).
Granted, Frank Lampard's reluctance to track back has something to do with it. Nevertheless, Mikel needs to keep close to the centre-backs, especially if neither of them is Terry.
If the triangle in the back (Cahill, Luiz, Mikel) play well, Chelsea will continue to rack up clean sheets. And, more importantly, they will continue to win matches.
If that defensive trio doesn't respond without Terry, the Blues could suddenly find them outside of the top four before he comes back. It will be a tough month without their captain, but Chelsea still must get the job done.
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