Ba, Lukaku, or Torres?
We are in that time of year when speculation is rife about all the great signings who are Bridge-bound. It seems to me that lots of Chelsea supporters are keen for the club to splash the cash on another centre forward.
First of all, in the event that we actually need one(and I will certainly come on to that point later), who is going to make way for our next would-be striker superstar? Let me give my twopence worth about our current incumbents, starting in alphabetical order with Mr Ba.
I actually belive that Demba Ba has been the least impressive of our strikers. He started with a couple of tap-ins on his debut and in fact for many weeks, the only team that he had scored against was Southampton. I liked his two eye-catching goals against the manky Mancs in the FA Cup sixth round and semi-finals. However, these goals tended to sum up his abilities.
Demba Ba seems more comfortable with instinctive strikes and half chances than he does with clear-cut chances when he has too much time to think about it. He was apparently guilty of missing many chances at home to West Ham United and frankly he has scored no more goals since January than Senor Torres. However,Chelsea will almost certainly persevere with Ba for a bit longer. Yes he is energetic and a handful at times, but so is our next candidate, Lukaku.
I dearly hope that Chelsea don’t treat Lukaku the way that they did Daniel Sturridge, i.e. put him out on loan, bring him back, lose faith in him, and concentrate on keeping faith with under-achieving star signings, and then offload him elsewhere. Lukaku has been brilliant at West Brom. This club would be the first to admit that they are nowhere near as creative in midfield as Chelsea and yet big Romelu still banged in the goals from the fewer chances that came his way. If Chelsea invested time in him [i.e. didn’t drop him after two matches!] then he ought to replicate his form and even surpass his goalscoring of last year if he were to play in front of our three so-called Amigos.
Of course, folk will state that his style of play may not be entirely compatible with our current style of attack. I for one am desperately keen for Chelsea to invest time in someone who will be a darn sight cheaper than some imported ego from the continent who has no proven track record of scoring or thriving in the cut and thrust of the English Premiership. No doubt Lukaku will be loaned out again. I hope that he gets an audition in the pre-season and that Chelsea FC realise just how valuable is a guy who netted a hat trick against ManUre. How many people floating around, past or present have done that?!
Lukaku is Chelsea’s future along with Chalobah at Watford. Instead, our muppets will buy big egos with huge wage bills which then mean that the supporters will have to cough up more dosh too. What of that frustrating enigma, Fernando Torres? I would keep him, at least until next January. Is he finally beginning to find his feet? Well, the painful truth is that Liverpoo got the best of Torres, but that should not put us off. We did after all buy Mark Hughes, even though it was fairly apaprent that his best footballing days had long since occurred oop north. Hughes still made a big contribution in that great quartet of Flo, Hughes, Vialli, and Zola.
Torres, like Robert Fleck before him, has probably played better against Chelsea than he actually has done for Chelsea, but c’est la vie.
Fernando actually demonstrated in that outstanding goal in the Europa League final the attributes that he could and should display more often. He produced pace and power to thrust his way past the last defender and then round the keeper, followed by precision in turning the ball into the net from a narrow angle. Pace, power, and precision all appeared at the same moment. Can Torres re-produce that combination again? Perhaps the Europa League brought out the best in him.
Perhaps he isn’t cut out for the grind of the Premiership no more. The statistics would suggest such. One big consolation for us all is that whereas eighteen months ago we couldn’t give Torres away, his impressive run of goals in the Europa League has at least rendered him a marketable commodity again. I want to keep him, but should some silly Russian club with more money than sense offer at least fourteen million for him, I would let him go. I also wouldn’t let Lukaku go for less than twelve million pounds.
Seriously though do we need to be purchasing Hulk or Falcao? We have had our fingers burnt before from investing in Shevchenko and the under-achieving Torres.
The truth is that Chelsea scored 147 goals last season. We have the most lethal midfielder in British football. We have the quintet of Hazard, Mata, Moses, Oscar, and Ramires who between them can be relied upon to score about fifty or sixty goals per season (and create as many for others). Finally we have the most lethal quartet of centre halves in world football. Did you know that Cahill, Ivanovic, Luiz, and Terry scored 27 goals between them last season? That has to be a world record for any team.
The reality is that Chelsea create loads of chances and are full of goals. We average over two goals per match. Even Azpulicueta will probably get in on the goalscoring act next.
It’s not scoring that is Chelsea’s biggest concern. It’s conceding goals that should be our biggest worry.
Our defence is creaky at best. We don’t keep enough clean sheets any more. We no longer seem able to hold on to a lead. We now cling on to a one-goal advantage at the end of a match and occasionally get stung, playing that awful tactic. Yes, it could just be a Rafa strategy, but under Jose we also played out one-goal leads. We were better at it then, because we had far better defenders then: Carvalho and Gallas and Terry were in their prime. Makalele and Essien were in imperious form in front of them.
Okay, in summary, Chelsea supporters and the club need to focus on addressing our recent defensive vulnerabilities, instead of worrying our pretty little heads about a prima donna striker arriving. No doubt we will buy a new striker, pay over the odds for such a ‘superstar’, who in turn will command an extortionate wage bill. Who should we choose to offload of Ba, Lukaku, or Torres? None of them. Stuff the striker nonsense. Let’s not get insecure about our attacking. Our attacking and finishing is fine. Our defending is not.
Gary Watton; historian and sports statistician [http://gw930.blog.com]