Chelsea’s woes under Rafael Benitez continued at the weekend in the defeat to Manchester City and the sense of dismay would have been compounded by events happening at the Hawthorns.
Neither Fernando Torres not Demba Ba could make the breakthrough at the Etihad Stadium against the defending Premier League champions.
It was a performance that further highlighted the Stamford Bridge club’s centre-forward problems and that the January addition of Ba has failed to fire the hoped instant improvement.
Whether you believe Rafael Benitez is to blame for the Blues slump this season or not, one decision that appears to be backfiring was not down to him.
Chelsea did not think Romelu Lukaku was up to scratch when he first made the switch to Stamford Bridge from Anderlecht in 2011 and was shipped out on loan to West Brom after a forgettable first season in west London.
This season he has proved that he is more than capable of leading the line in the Premier League if he is given the chance.
West Brom’s 2-1 win over Sunderland saw Lukaku bag a brace to take his tally this season to 12 goals in all.
Compare this number to the seven of Torres and it is clear that Chelsea appear to have backed the wrong horse.
The purchase of Ba from Newcastle United was hoped to give the forwards department a boost, as the Senegal striker had already struck 13 times before moving, but that has not materialised.
Torres has never quite fired on all cylinders since his £50million move from Liverpool and the expected improvement following the departure of Didier Drogba’s looming shadow has not happened.
The Spain international is now facing another fight for his future as Lukaku will surely return to Stamford Bridge once his loan deal expires at the end of the season.
The young Belgium international has proved his credentials as a lone front man and Chelsea would be advised to give him a chance to prove his worth in a Blue shirt.
Lukaku has already repaid the trust put in him by West Brom manager Steve Clark and is improving rapidly enough to suggest he is capable of doing the same for Benitez’s successor.
The 19-year-old’s form should also provide some kind of reassurance at Torres’ continued failure to fire as it means the questions of the Spaniard’s long-term future do not look so desperate.
Lukaku is showing Roman Abramovich that there should be no need for another expensive investment once the season ends and also that it may now be the time for Torres to move on.
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