Mikel impressed by Villas-Boas
Mikel will have more reason than most to impress Villas-Boas, having been overlooked by former coach Carlo Ancelotti for several key games last season - including both legs of the Champions League quarter-final exit to Manchester United.
But the 24-year-old now has the opportunity of a fresh start under the Portuguese, who has been working his players hard in pre-season training.
"The new manager has worked really hard on our sharpness and it is going very well," Mikel told Chelsea's official website.
"The double sessions are hard but working with the ball makes it so much easier than running all the time, and it is enjoyable as well. The other coaches are also playing their part in supporting the manager and adding their own ideas.
"Everything so far has been great, we're all enjoying their training and everything is going well so hopefully we can have a good season and for me it will be good to pick up information because I still want to improve."
Mikel's chances of featuring more in Chelsea's starting XI in 2011-12 were boosted by the news that Michael Essien will be out for six months, but the Nigeria international insists he feels nothing but sadness about his team-mates' knee injury.
"Unfortunately Michael Essien has been injured, and we all feel sorry for him and wish him well and hopefully he can come back very soon," Mikel said.
Villas-Boas began his Chelsea reign with a behind-closed-doors friendly victory over Wycombe on Tuesday night, with Yossi Benayoun and Fernando Torres acoring in the 3-0 win.
Twenty-three players were used in the match at the Blues' Cobham training ground. Benayoun opened the scoring after four minutes, controlling an awkward dropping pass before clipping it over goalkeeper Nikki Bull.
Bull made good saves to deny first the Israel playmaker and then striker Didier Drogba before defenders John Terry and Jose Bosingwa both went close.
It remained 1-0 at the interval but a new-look Chelsea line-up quickly doubled their lead, Nicolas Anelka setting up Torres to sweep the ball past Bull, who moments earlier had denied the Spaniard after a similar link-up with his strike partner.
Defender Slobodan Rajkovic, back from a season on loan at Vitesse Arnhem in Holland, volleyed home a fine third goal from Yury Zhirkov's corner. Anelka went close on three occasions before Salomon Kalou curled a shot against the upright, and a late Torres effort was then blocked.