Chelsea’s issue with strikers continue to grow with every game. They enter their opening Champions League fixture against FC Basel tonight at Stamford Bridge having fielded their strikers for nearly 450 minutes this season and having only seen one goal from them in that time.
Although Fernando Torres was the striker that scored the one goal in the club's UEFA Super Cup defeat to Bayern Munich in May, he doesn’t deserve to be praised much further than Demba Ba, Samuel Eto’o (and Romelu Lukaku prior to leaving on loan to Everton) as he has featured more than the two other Chelsea strikers.
Each of the strikers that Jose Mourinho has at his disposal have been given their chances this season; Mourinho has started each Premier League game with a different man up front so far this campaign. This shouldn’t be happening – especially not at a side that hosts Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o; two strikers that were once at the pinnacle of European football.
Yes, Eto’o is 32 and Torres is 29, but Robin Van Persie is still banging them in for Manchester United at 30 and Chelsea fans don’t have to look far to remember that Didier Drogba was 34 and still the go-to man when he lead the Blues to their first every Champions League victory.
Eto’o’s blushes can be spared for his open goal miss at Goodison Park on Saturday only because it was his Premier League debut, but if the former Barcelona hitman does that at White Hart Lane on the 28th of this month Chelsea fans won’t be so forgiving. Unfortunately the Blues haven’t had great success in the transfer market for strikers in recent years.
Many strikers who have signed for them whilst on form at their previous clubs like Adrian Mutu, Hernan Crespo, Mateja Kezman, Andriy Shevschenko and most recently Torres, have all failed upon making their moves to England to join Chelsea’s Russian Revolution.
Nicholas Anelka showed signs of what he could do in his four years at the Bridge, but as the has been the story of Le Sulk’s career, he left the fans constantly wishing for more effort in the big games.
Only Drogba’s arrival in 2004 from Marseille will be one to remember. The big man was there time after time when Chelsea needed a leader and a man who was going to almost single handily become the match winner them.
Eto’o’s career has been similar to that of Drogba’s in a way. He has been the go-to man up front for every side he has played for – and look at his record over Europe it is plain to see he is a legend in his own right.
Mourinho didn’t make it a secret that he wanted Wayne Rooney this summer, and after his performance for Manchester United against Bayer Leverkusen last night it is blatantly obvious why Rooney would have been the perfect man to lead the Chelsea line.
While Eto’o isn’t the ideal second choice to Rooney, he offers them experience, and going by his record in Spain, Italy and Russia, he should offer them goals.
The way Chelsea play is another factor that may have caused problems for their strikers. The three attacking midfielders like to have the ball to themselves and often get each other in a better chance to score than the striker, which can sometimes leave whoever is the lone man up front to look like he is in the way of what they are doing.
Chelsea entered this season with an air of excitement that hadn’t been seen around Stamford Bridge since Carlo Ancelotti’s tenure at the club. But so far in the Premier League they have looked like a lion circling his prey, but when they are in the position to pounce they just miss it every time.
Mourinho will surely be looking to Rafael Benitez and the whoever else was in charge of transfer deals during January with a face like thunder as Daniel Sturridge continues on a goal scoring form that must be turning Fernando Torres turn green with envy.
Without a consistent striker Chelsea are going to struggle in their attempts to finally regain the Premier League title; but without a consistent striker Chelsea are going to have absolutely no chance of becoming Champions League winners or a second time.
Mourinho needs goals from Torres, Ba, Eto’o, Schurrle – whoever he decides to play up front – and he needs them to start getting them tonight.
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