Mikel wary of winter slump
John Obi Mikel is confident Chelsea can avoid yet another case of the winter blues by beating Manchester United in Sunday's top-of-the-table Barclays Premier League showdown.
- Related Content
The European champions go into this weekend's game having suffered their first major setback of the season in Tuesday's Champions League game at Shakhtar Donetsk.
The 2-1 defeat came at the time of year when Chelsea have suffered a slump in three of the past four seasons that have ultimately cost them in the title race.
Defeat on Sunday would raise the spectre of a repeat, but a victory would help banish those demons for a side that have already made their second-best start ever to a Premier League campaign with 22 points from 24.
Midfielder Mikel said: "All of us know what has happened in recent seasons, so we have to make sure that this defeat doesn't make that happen again.
"We have to make sure we correct it very quickly and that starts with the next game against United.
"They will be very dangerous as usual and, if we defend the way we did [against Shakhtar], it's going to be difficult for us.
"We have to defend as a unit, play together as a unit. As long as we do that on Sunday, we'll have a very good chance."
With John Terry banned and the results of Frank Lampard's calf scan expected to be revealed on Friday, Mikel could be one of Chelsea's outfield players on Sunday with the most experience of fixtures against United.
The 25-year-old controversially snubbed a move to Old Trafford to join the Blues from Lyn in 2005, leading to a bitter legal dispute.
But Mikel said of facing United once again: "There's no extra edge for me.
"I've got over it and I think they have got over it as well.
"It's just a normal game for me. It's going to be a great game. We have to pick ourselves up. It's going to be difficult but we have to do that."
Branislav Ivanovic has become another veteran of encounters with United and admitted there was plenty of work to do following Chelsea's midweek display in Donetsk.
"We have to analyse it well and see where we made the mistakes," he said.
"These things are down to concentration and preparing for the game. We have to start well and be focused for the whole 90 minutes.
"This is the change of the team. We defend as a team and we attack as a team.
"We have to stay together and be more compact in this type of game. That makes it easier for your team-mates.
"Of course, a result like that has an effect on morale but this is one of the most crucial games of the season.
"We've had two difficult games, at Spurs and Shakhtar and now we have to recover and prepare well for Sunday.
"We know it is difficult against United and we have to be focused for the whole 90 minutes if we want to win this game."
Lampard, meanwhile, underwent a scan on Thursday on the calf injury that saw him limp off after just 15 minutes on Tuesday night.
An update is expected to be given by manager Roberto Di Matteo at Friday's lunchtime press conference.
If the midfielder fails to recover in time, it will be the second United game in a row Terry and Lampard have missed after last season's 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Prior to that, one or both of them had started every encounter between the sides going back to September 2000.