Essien the Key as Blues Put Pressure on United ; .. Star's Return Vital, Says Malouda [Edition 2]

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FLORENT MALOUDA today claimed Michael Essien holds the key to Chelsea's battle for silverware on three fronts, writes James Olley.

The Blues climbed to second in the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Stamford Bridge yesterday..

Essien, making his first League start since recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury, scored the crucial goal to cut Manchester United's lead to just four points, although Sir Alex Ferguson's side have a game in hand. With Champions League and FA Cup engagements to come, Malouda believes his fellow midfielder can inspire the club's push for honours after their season was re- ignited by the arrival of boss Guus Hiddink.

Malouda said: "Of course he can make the difference. We are still trying to win

Essien key to Blues' title tilt titles so we know that we will have a lot of games. Michael has that spirit, he has worked a lot to come back. I hope he will keep on scoring, help the strikers to score and improve our game. …