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Chelsea’s Strikers 2013-14: An Analysis

Jose Mourinho FC Basel rotation 2013

This is a guest article written by John

Despite being one of the favourites to lift the Premiership trophy at the end of the season, the lack of a standout striker at Chelsea is the one problem that could hold José Mourinho’s team back. With three options in the first team squad but nobody excelling, this dilemma has lasted since the beginning of the previous season.

The loss of Didier Drogba, following Chelsea’s Champions League win in 2012, was inevitable given his age but the team has found no replacement for the club legend. Drogba’s record in big matches was truly remarkable at Chelsea, scoring 9 goals in 9 finals during his time at Stamford Bridge, and his ability to score at crucial times is sorely missed by The Blues.

Fernando Torres, so threatening at Liverpool, has been the subject of continual criticism for his failure to match his previous form. That the club spent somewhere in the region of £50 million for him has only increased the pressures of joining a new club and, unfortunately, seems to have damaged his confidence rather than serving as motivation. He has helped his team’s cause with some important goals since joining, most notably against Barcelona in the Champions League, but they are far too irregular for a striker at a top club, scoring just 8 goals in 36 league games last season.

Recognising the need for another option in attack, then manager Rafael Benítez signed Demba Ba from Newcastle in last January’s transfer window. Ba struggled to make a mark at his new team, scoring just 2 goals in 14 league games, and was far more productive in the FA Cup. While he was never likely to be perceived as the solution to Chelsea’s problems and was expected to be more of a rotation player, fans would still have been hoping for more of an impact.

The return of Mourinho to the club signalled a new sense of purpose and focus, with the Portuguese manager quickly setting his sights on signing Wayne Rooney from Manchester United. Fast, powerful, and immensely hard working for his team, and undoubtedly the club’s top striker if he had signed, Rooney would have been exactly what Chelsea needed: a world-class player who they could rely on to score goals. With the club’s considerable financial might behind him, Mourinho made repeated bids for the unsettled striker but United were adamant about not selling him, especially to such obvious rivals for the Premiership crown.

The signing of Samuel Eto’o, a player Mourinho formerly managed at Inter Milan, was met with a mixed reaction. Unquestionably a great player in his youth, age and injury have taken much of his pace and three average seasons spent in Russia did little to convince the fans that he would be the solution they wanted. With just 2 league goals so far and struggles to stay on the pitch, thanks to niggling injuries, he has failed to assert himself in Chelsea’s first team. Watch Chelsea live football streaming match for Capital One Quarter-Finals vs Sunderland on December 17, 19.45 GMT.

Many fans have questioned the repeated loaning out of Romelu Lukaku, with the 6’3 20 year old seeming such a natural replacement for Drogba. While his season at West Bromwich Albion was understandable, given concerns about his inexperience, he scored 17 league goals for the team, better than any of Chelsea’s attacking options. Now with 8 goals in just 9 starts at Everton, Chelsea’s fans are understandably confused and frustrated that someone with such obvious benefits to a team who create so many chances has been repeatedly overlooked for older, less reliable players.

Mourinho’s statements earlier this week that Lukaku asked to be loaned out may have been in response to the striker’s frustration at not being prioritised at Chelsea, but probably signalled the breakdown of any relationship they might have had. The airing of public grievances, rather than discussing their issues and plans for the future, is likely a sign that Lukaku will not be at Chelsea next season, and not due to a loan move. If Chelsea do sell him, they will make a considerable profit but, frankly, the club needs a dependable striker far more than they need money.

Chelsea’s top priority in the January window will be finding a first choice striker. Teams are always more reluctant to sell in the middle of the season but, with their financial might, it is worth spending extra for the potential rewards. Chelsea are among the favourites for the Premiership, sitting in second place even with their issues up front, but could be so much better with a world class player on the end of balls from Oscar, Mata and Hazard. If they maintain their current position until January, there will be plenty of time to push on and try to snatch away the Premier League trophy.

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This is a guest article written by John