The Pros and Cons of Chelsea's Ba-Sturridge Swap

John BainesCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Chelsea's Ba-Sturridge Swap

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    As expected Chelsea have been at the forefront of the January transfer window activity with Daniel Sturridge leaving for Liverpool and Demba Ba set to sign from Newcastle United.

    Should the Ba switch be completed it would represent a one in, one out scenario for the Blues but one which still leaves them drastically undernourished up-front.

    With Fernando Torres continuing to infuriate, have Chelsea actually improved or reduced their striking stocks?

    We investigate the pros and cons of selling Sturridge and signing Ba.

Pro: Goals Win Games

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    On the surface, Chelsea have brought in one proven Premier League goalscorer to replace a player who, though not short on self-confidence, has never proven to be anything other than a talented enigma.

    In just under two years in England, Senegalese striker Demba Ba has found the net 36 times in 71 appearances in all competitions for West Ham and Newcastle United. That return is an improvement on the departed Daniel Sturridge who scored just 23 goals over the same period of time.

    Both Roberto Di Matteo and Rafa Benitez have required a viable alternative to the problematic Fernando Torres and if there is one thing that Ba guarantees then, it's goals.

    In recent weeks the Blues have drawn blanks against Manchester City, Fulham, Corinthians and Queens Park Rangers and being able to call upon a recognized replacement striker in any of those fixtures could have swung the game.

    A look at some of Ba's previous strikes (above) shows the variety he can bring to any side. He has the pace and power to get in behind defenses and also the aerial ability and tenacity to capitalize on balls into the box.

    The crosses which Torres has made scant effort to get onto in recent weeks are the exact type Ba—and not Sturridge—makes the most of.

Pro: Replacing the Drogba Effect

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    Chelsea have lacked a physical central attacking presence since Didier Drogba left and Ba has both the pace, power and persona to fill the void left by the Ivorian.

    Aside from his vast array of goals, Drogba led the line like few can and his ability to hold up the ball and bring others into play has been conspicuous in its absence since the summer.

    Sturridge has regularly professed a preference to play centrally but in reality he has rarely occupied this slot, whereas Ba is more of a traditional "number 9," equally adept at both finding the back of the net and being the focal point for the side.

    Many of the Blues attacking moves fall foul at the feet of Fernando Torres and with Sturridge similarly erratic, Ba's arrival could add another dimension to their overall play.

    Drogba regularly retrieved hopeful balls sent into his vicinity, and his strength in occupying a back four whilst doing so often freed up space for others to exploit.

    Sturridge may have a trick and a flick to beat a man but Chelsea have plenty of that and not enough of what they really need.

Pro: One Less Problem

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    If Daniel Sturridge was as good as he thinks he is then every club in the world would be busting the bank to have him on board.

    Both Manchester City and Chelsea failed to see the sort of return they'd expect for a player of his natural ability and one wonders why someone with such outstanding footballing gifts can regularly fail to deliver the goods.

    Sturridge has often been criticized for his selfishness and lack of awareness. On his day he can tear any defense apart, but when it's not his day he can do more harm than good.

    At present Chelsea do not need any internal rifts with criticism coming from many quarters and Demba Ba appears to be the sort of no-nonsense professional who will get his head down and do a job for the team.

Con: Age and Injuries

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    Demba Ba's move to Newcastle United only came after Stoke City passed up the opportunity to sign him because of concerns over his knees.

    The 27-year-old apparently has a "chronic" knee problem which suggest they're unlikely to get any better.

    With only Fernando Torres left to shoulder the attacking burden should Ba get injured the move resembles a gamble of sorts, but his injury record at Newcastle suggests those worries may be mislaid.

    However, he has been nursed through Newcastle's schedule this season by starting just one of their eight Europa League games, and his workload is likely to increase should the switch to Stamford Bridge be completed.

    Chelsea will have a congested second half of the season with Premier League, Europa League, Carling Cup and FA Cup commitments, meaning Ba will have plenty of game time to get through.

    If Ba is sidelined for any length of time though, then the Blues are stuck with just Torres with Daniel Sturridge fit and fresh to play for Liverpool.

Con: Versatility

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    Although Daniel Sturridge has expressed a desire to play as a central striker, arguably the most productive spell of his career came at the start of Andre Villas-Boas's short lived stay at Chelsea when he was deployed as one of the wide players in a three-man forward setup.

    When on loan at Bolton Wanderers for the second half of the 2010/11 season, Sturridge also registered an impressive 8 goals in 12 league games playing through the center and it is this versatility which Chelsea may require between now and May.

    Demba Ba has occasionally shared a wide-role with Papiss Cisse at Newcastle to differing effect and he's certainly not on the radar to patrol one of the flanks.

    At present Chelsea seem well stocked with players to play off the front-man but with Victor Moses set to miss a month due to the African Cup of Nations and Marko Marin still finding his feet at Stamford Bridge, Sturridge offers more options across the final third.

Con: A Striker's Graveyard

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    Daniel Sturridge is the latest in a long line of strikers bought by Chelsea who have never gone on to fully justify their purchase.

    Demba Ba is being acquired because Fernando Torres has failed to replicate his Liverpool heyday, and beyond that you can add the names of Andriy Shevchenko, Claudio Pizarro, Mateja Kezman, Adrian Mutu, Hernan Crespo and Chris Sutton as high profile signings who all came and went without repaying their transfer fee.

    Stamford Bridge is gathering a reputation as something of a strikers graveyard with each new recruit expected to succeed where others have tried and failed.

    Ba's scoring record at West Ham and Newcastle suggests he can find the back of the net on a regular basis but none of those arenas carry the weight of scrutiny that playing for Chelsea does.

    So often with strikers it's about getting off on the right footing and if Ba can hit the ground running then any lingering doubts will be quickly erased.

    However, the names listed above all started sluggishly and could never row back from subdued beginnings to make a big enough impact.

    With Chelsea fans having lost confidence in Torres to do the job, plenty will be demanded of Ba, both internally and externally, and that exposure is difficult to contend with.