Chelsea should give Ba a chance to shine

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Under returning manager Jose Mourinho, Chelsea have experienced somewhat of a mixed start to the 2013/14 season.

Although their league position - fourth with 10 points from five games - does not represent much cause for concern at such an early stage of a competitive campaign,  the manner of the defeats suffered at the hands of Everton in the Premier League and particularly FC Basel in the Champions League group stage has evidently unsettled many Blues fans.

One of the key issues for Chelsea so far this season has been the inconsistency of their forward line. With the extremely surprising and undeniably controversial decision to loan physical Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku to top-flight rivals Everton for the entire campaign, it has been left to new signing Samuel Eto'o and Spanish international Fernando Torres to jostle for the lone front role ahead of preferred playmaker Oscar.

Although it is obviously very early on in his career at Stamford Bridge, thus far Eto'o, who followed Brazilian teammate Willian from troubled Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala to West London towards the climax of a particularly hectic summer transfer window, has failed to display any sign of the quality that saw him prosper during two particularly prolific spells with traditional European heavyweights Barcelona and Inter Milan.

Torres, meanwhile, has performed adequately but his notable lack of starts in the top flight this season suggests that the popular Portuguese does not have a significant degree of faith in the former Atletico Madrid man who has - somewhat unfairly, I might add - become a desperate figure of ridicule in recent months due to his apparent lack of form.

While attempting to solve his troublesome striking conundrum, there is one man I believe Mourinho has not yet given a sufficient opportunity to impress in the final third - Demba Ba.

28-year-old Ba arrived at Stamford Bridge from Newcastle United for an undisclosed fee in January during a particularly turbulent period for Chelsea under the stewardship of deeply unpopular Spaniard Rafael Benitez.

Having suitably impressed fans and pundits alike with admirable technique and a consistent eye for goal during top-flight spells with both West Ham United and the Magpies, Ba arrived with an established Premier League pedigree.

Under Mourinho, however, Ba appears to be little more than an afterthought. The former Hoffenheim star has featured just once in the league so far this season, in a relatively dour 64-minute showing against Paul Lambert's youthful Aston Villa side back in August. 

Since then, Ba has not even been awarded a place on the substitutes bench in the Premier League and has been restricted to short cameos against Basel and League One opponents Swindon. 

While it might perhaps be true to say that the striker has mostly failed to impose himself and assert any kind of authority during those aforementioned appearances, is it really any wonder?

Despite their extravagant salaries, expensive possessions and dazzling lifestyles, many modern footballers are heavily reliant upon confidence. What chance does Ba have of producing the goods necessary to secure himself regular first-team football when he is simply reduced to scrambling for a rare fifteen-minute cameo every few weeks?

Ultimately, it may well prove that Ba is not capable of holding down a full-time role in Chelsea's staring lineup. However, given the relative paucity of alternatives at Mourinho's disposal and the lack of goals scored by the Senegalese international's direct competitors, it certainly would not represent too much of a risk to give him that chance to shine.

However, with Ba clearly not favoured by the management at Stamford Bridge and escalating doubts about his immediate future in West London, it is an opportunity that I fear will not be forthcoming.

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Demba Ba
Premier League

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