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Football | Barclays Premier League

Mikel backs Eto'o to recover



Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel insists Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o will bounce back quickly after his disappointing debut.

Eto'o endured a frustrating first taste of the Premier League as he missed several chances in Chelsea's 1-0 defeat at Everton on Saturday.

After two seasons with Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala, the 32-year-old looked well short of the sharpness required to thrive in the English top-flight, but Nigeria midfielder Mikel predicts it will not be long before Eto'o is striking fear into defences again.

"Samuel is a great player, a fantastic player. You could see the way he played, he created some fantastic chances," Mikel said.

"That is why the manager brought him in. Obviously he has a lot of trust and belief in him.

"Let's wait and see, the English league is very difficult to adapt to and this was the first game for him and he has done pretty well.

"Chelsea was my first real professional club and it took me six months to a year to adapt, but I think someone like Eto'o, who is well experienced and has played in so many leagues, won't take very long.

"I think he looked a bit sharp so it won't take him long to get back into his fitness.

"He is a world-class player, a fantastic guy. We just have to keep playing with him and helping him to adapt to the Premier League.

"He tries to give his experience so we have to keep working with him, keep playing with him and trying to help him to fit in."

Eto'o's debut could have got off to the perfect start after only five minutes but he directed a close-range header from Ramires's cross wastefully wide.

More embarrassingly for the former Barcelona and Inter Milan star, he then ballooned one shot into the upper tier of the stand behind the goal.

He would have scored into an open net had Everton's own debutant Gareth Barry not slid in to rescue goalkeeper Tim Howard's blushes when, in trying to pass sideways out of his six-yard area, he picked out Andre Schurrle.

Those misses were key moments as Chelsea lost for the first time in the league since Jose Mourinho's return to Stamford Bridge, but Mikel believes the team will hit back in Wednesday's Champions League opener against Basle.

"It is about how we bounce back. Sometimes when you know what you've done wrong it is easy to bounce back," Mikel said.

"We need to go back to training and try to find out what we didn't do –although everyone knows what we didn't do, we didn't score goals."

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