Chelsea look strong but definitely need another striker

And so, 13 weeks after that glorious night in Munich, the league season is upon us again.

Chelsea’s pre-season form has hardly been the stuff of European champions – four straight defeats culminating in the 3-2 loss to Manchester City in last weekend’s Community Shield.  But it will be results that come once the serious stuff starts that matter.

Plenty has changed since May. Roberto Di Matteo is now the permanent manager rather than an interim one, and it is hard to see how any other choice could have been made after winning the FA Cup and Champions League.

Kalou played his part last season.

A handful of players have gone. Most notably Didier Drogba, who went out at the very top, with his equalising goal and winning penalty in Munich added to a host of other cup final goals.

Salomon Kalou has also moved on, released after playing his part in the European win, and snapped up by Lille.

Kalou had many critics but worked hard and cropped up with a number of vital goals in six years at Stamford Bridge.

Jose Bosingwa has also left. Useful going forward, Bosingwa caused me too many nightmares in his defensive role for me to mourn his departure.

What of the new arrivals? It is notable that direct replacements haven’t been bought for either Bosingwa or Drogba.

I don’t mind us not having signed a right-back if it means Branislav Ivanovic is going to play there.

Ivanovic is a fantastic defender, either on the right or in the centre – 100 times more solid than Bosingwa but also a threat going forward. But will he be happy playing at right-back all season?

While Drogba’s departure might be a welcome signal for Fernando Torres to step up and become Chelsea’s unrivalled first-choice striker, I am still surprised Di Matteo hasn’t brought in another centre-forward.

A year ago we had Drogba, Torres, Kalou, Nicolas Anelka, Daniel Sturridge and Romelu Lukaku. The departures of Drogba, Kalou and Anelka and Lukaku’s loan move to West Brom (which could be exactly what he needs) leave us with just two strikers, whereas a year ago there were six.

It’s an important season for Sturridge.

An injury or two or a continued loss of form and we’ll be in trouble.

That doesn’t mean we haven’t made good signings. I haven’t seen much of Eden Hazard, Marko Marin or Oscar but they all look good.

Hazard was lively against Manchester City and anyone who judges him on the admittedly embarrassing attempted back-heel that saw him fall flat on his face would be seriously underestimating him.

Marin is highly regarded and Oscar had a good Olympic tournament for Brazil, even if he did miss a great chance to equalise in the dying seconds of the final.

Exciting signings all of them – but they do play in very similar positions. So much so that yet another new man who fills the same sort of role, Kevin De Bruyne, has been allowed to leave on loan.

The prospect of Di Matteo being able to pick any two or three of Hazard, Oscar, Marin and Juan Mata to form a link between Frank Lampard (who looked great for England against Italy and may benefit from the rest he got from missing Euro 2012) and Torres is a mouthwatering one.

And it’s a vast improvement on trying to dredge the last few morsels of form out of Florent Malouda.

Many Premier League defences will struggle to contain this excellent, talented, creative attacking threat and I can imagine goals being scored by a host of players, much as they were when we seemed to have threats all over the pitch in the Double-winning season.

But what if Torres’ golden boot-winning summer and classy goal at Villa Park last Sunday aren’t a sign of things to come and he struggles once more? What if he picks up an injury?

Can we rely on Sturridge, who is good but still young and without a great deal of experience playing in the centre at the highest level, to bang in enough goals?

Maybe not. And for that reason I suspect we may see another new arrival at the Bridge before the end of August.


James Clarke is the author of Moody Blues: Following the second-best team in Europe

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