Chelsea host Arsenal on Tuesday night in the Premier League and manager Frank Lampard desperately needs a response from his players.
The Blues sit fourth in the division table and have a five-point cushion inside the Champions League spots, but they are threatening to give that up with some inconsistent form of late.
Lampard watched his side beat Arsenal 2-1 on 29 December in the league meeting at the Emirates Stadium, but since then it’s been a mixed bag of results.
Chelsea did beat Burnley in the league and managed an FA Cup victory against Nottingham Forest, but were held to a draw against Brighton and suffered a crushing away defeat to Newcastle United at the weekend.
There is a lack of spark in the team right now that has usually existed this season and they need to get back on track to keep up the Champions League push.
Lampard shoulder recall Mateo Kovacic in midweek against Arsenal, as he’s due to turn the corner and recover the kind of form that saw him look dynamite earlier in the season.
There could be a strong suggestion that Kovacic was in the mix for Chelsea’s player of the season during the first of the campaign.
The 25-year-old nailed down a regular spot in the centre of the park and his permanent summer arrival looked a masterstroke.
He is a quality central midfielder on his day that provides great energy, precision of passing on the ball and a forward drive with his dribbling.
The Croatian was really coming into his own in a Chelsea shirt, but he’s dipped after missing a loss to Southampton through suspension on 26 November.
Kovacic has started just one of the last four league gams since and been an unused substitute in the last two games.
It’s clear there was a drop off from the playmaker, but he’s got too much quality to keep quiet and Chelsea should recall him for a big fixture against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.