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Mikel Obi now a more responsible Chelsea player

John Mikel Obi is enjoying the opportunity afforded him of regular first team action in the absence of injury victim Michael Essien. Mikel chalked up his 100th Chelsea appearance in the defeat by Arsenal last Sunday.

"I thought about everything coming into this season - about how to improve my game, how to get myself in the team, and I thought about how to get the cards right," the Nigerian midfielder told the club's official website.

"This is a season where everything I thought about beforehand is happening.

"I am happy with myself, I am happy about not getting cards because before by this time in the season I would have had one or two reds. So far it has been going well."

Mikel now feels he has earned the full respect of his team-mates.

He recalled: "I made a speech before a game at Middlesbrough in the dressing room, and after I had finished, John Terry said 'now you are man'. If people like John Terry and Frank Lampard say I am now a man, I am a man."

Mikel believes regular football has helped his performances.

"I am really pleased with it and I just want to keep it going," he said, having made his 13th appearance out of 15 Barclays Premier League games last weekend.

"We will have to see what happens when Michael comes back.

"He is a great player, so I do not know if I am going to play, he is going to play, or we both play. It is up to the manager."

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