It is no secret Chelsea have struggled to find an adequate replacement for club hero, Didier Drogba this season.
The Ivorian tank had been a largely unchallenged staple in their front line for over half a decade.
His skill, strength, and finishing touch single-handedly brought them from the brink of defeat many times. Currently however, Chelsea's leading man has failed to replicate that scoring prowess. Could it be possible however, putting the blame entirely on the Spaniard's shoulders is unfair?
His finishing touch has left much to be desired and he seems a step slower than he was at Anfield. However, the fact is, Chelsea are a different side than they were with Drogba leading the line.
With the brilliant young Oscar and incisive Eden Hazard joining Juan Mata in the midfield their attacking identity has changed completely. The attack minded, goal scoring midfield trio lessen the need and importance of a 'one man army' striker. While it certainly does not devalue an excellent striker it certainly changes his role.
This trio has finally given Chelsea width they haven't had in quite some time. As a result Torres has become less of a target man and more of a facilitator.
He receives the ball and finds either overlapping runs or Mata/Ramires bombing in to the box.
Whereas Drogba was the sort of player who would turn his man and attack the goal, Torres has always worked the inside lanes. With his midfield support getting in to the same space he loses some of his effectiveness.
This is not to say they cannot have an effective striker in their current system, but it certainly does not build itself around a target player/goal scorer as Chelsea's previous systems have.
Demba Ba, while still settling in, has had similar problems. It wasn't until his stellar goal scoring record sputtered with us that it became clear perhaps the problem is not exclusively Torres.
Does this mean that Chelsea are in dire straights for a new striker this summer?
It doesn't seem that way. Even if Torres sees the door Ba still has several years left in him and Romelu Lukaku has more than proved himself worthy of a shot after his prosperous loan spell at West Brom this season.
It is an important note that Chelsea is only two goals shy of its previous 2009/2010 total goal record. The team is not hurting for goals. The fact of the matter is Chelsea no longer need to rely on a Drogba type one man team.
There had been periods where he lead the line where they resorted to a "kick and pray" mentality that left him isolated and berated by defenders as he tried to take on entire back lines alone.
Drogba was their only hope for goals. While he proved himself more than capable of this challenge it is nice to know the manager can employ a more even strategy.
Considering how young the squad is, this system has time to cement itself and work out some of the kinks that come with such an offensively oriented midfield.
Mikel coming on against United demonstrated how necessary it is to have a Makalele style holding presence to break up the space left by our attacking trio.
It is important to keep Chelsea's striker situation in perspective. Scoring goals has not been their undoing half as much as defensive errors. Perhaps the days of a one-man offensive strike force are behind them.
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