The Problem with Chelsea's Strikers

The Problem with Chelsea's Strikers

Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea has not been as plain sailing as many thought it would be. The Blues currently sit in third place in the table, five points off leaders Arsenal. Rumours have surfaced that Mourinho is not happy with the form of his strikers, a situation that looks worse given that Romelu Lukaku is thriving on loan at Everton. There is definitely a need for Chelsea strikers to score more goals, but is this down to their own shortcomings or other factors.

Chelsea Strikers 2

It is clear that other teams who occupy the top 5 spots strikers have been in good form this season. The lowest scoring out of these is Olivier Giroud with seven goals; whereas Chelsea’s highest scoring striker is Samuel Eto’o with two. Whether this will reflect on where the title ends up remains to be seen, but if one of Chelsea’s strikers began to deliver they would definitely be in a better position come May. Some have blamed Chelsea’s system for why their strikers have not been prolific. Fernando Torres’ game at Liverpool was based on getting in behind, something that rarely happens for him in a Chelsea shirt. Torres often pulls out to a wide position, and even if he is in the middle, Chelsea’s inverted wingers are more likely to shoot rather than cross.

The game often comes down to the argument that if you don’t shoot, then you don’t score. This is definitely the case with Torres in particular. On average Torres has a shot every 48 minutes and a shot on target every 101 minutes. If we compare that to the Premier League’s top scorer Luis Suarez who has a shot every 18 minutes and one on target every 30 minutes, we can start to understand the Chelsea’s problem. Eto’o is more regular than Torres with a shot every 27 minutes, but he only manages a shot on target every 51 minutes, which means he only has one target per game. Demba Ba is slightly less regular than Eto’o with a shot every 28 minutes and a shot on target every 68 minutes. These stats start to give us an understanding of why Chelsea’s strikers may be struggling at the moment.

Another factor could be the amount that Mourinho rotates his forwards. Form and confidence are the most important aspects for a goal scorer and in order for those to come about; a good run of games is needed. Chelsea strikers rarely get this as if they don’t score in one game, another plays in the next. If we look at the other teams in the top five, it’s a different story. Suarez has started every league game since his return, Olivier Giroud has only sat out once, Romelu Lukaku has started all but one of his Everton appearances and Sergio Aguero has started all but one of his games for City. What this means for their teams is that they are often sharper in front of goal.

When it comes to clear cut chances, Demba Ba has missed all three of his, Torres has scored one of his four and Eto’o has scored one of his three.  This means the Chelsea forwards have had ten clear cut chances between them, whereas Man City’s Aguero has had fourteen by himself. It has become popular for all to point to Romelu Lukaku, but the Everton loanee has scored four of his five clear cut chances.

So whether Mourinho buys in January remains to be seen. Torres and Eto’o have shown brief flashes of what they are capable of this season, but without guaranteed playing time, it is unlikely that either of them will find their stride. In recent years, only Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka have been successful as the striker in a Chelsea team. That leaves Fernando Torres, Andriy Shevchenko, Hernan Crespo, Claudio Pizzaro and maybe Samuel Eto’o all failing to play to their best in a Chelsea shirt. With nobody yet to fill the boots left by Drogba, the purchase of another striker seems likely. Whether that will solve Chelsea’s striking problems is another matter.