Should Fernando Torres and Demba Start Together for Chelsea?
When a new striker arrives at a club, the first question put to a manager is often how his new recruit is going to fit into the team's system and tactical approach.
For Demba Ba at Chelsea, it is rather simple—he's playing the same role he did at Newcaslte United, that of the lone striker and the fulcrum of the team's attack. It was a role he perfected with the North East club and despite the challenge from fellow Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse, it was a role he eventually made his own under Alan Pardew.
What Ba's arrival means for the future of Fernando Torres is anyone's guess and only time will tell. So far, it has meant the Spaniard has had to share goal-scoring duties with his new teammate, but don't expect the pair to be starting many games together, if any.
For the first part of the season, Chelsea has relied solely on Torres for goals. Sure, Juan Mata, Frank Lampard and the remainder of Chelsea's talented midfield have chipped in with their fair share, but Torres has been the only recognized goal scorer—until now.
The departure of Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool highlights a lot more than good business acumen (the Blues effectively made an estimated £5 million profit in selling him for £12 million, replacing him with Ba for £7 million).
In his time at Chelsea, the 23-year-old made no secret of his desire to play through the middle, but such is the system the Blues play, he was vying for one spot and invariably it was being filled by Torres or Didier Drogba.
That system has been tweaked this year, but the result remained the same—one striker. Now, Chelsea makes a habit of changing its coaching staff midway through a season, but is the club going to change its system now that Ba has signed? No.
In doing that, it would be detrimental to what Rafa Benitez is trying to achieve, but there is also another factor to consider—the very midfielders who have helped Torres along the way with goals of their own.
Who should be Chelsea's starting striker?
Say what you will about the Spaniard's goalscoring record, but his role at Chelsea is about far more than finding the back of the net. With Mata, Eden Hazard and either Victor Moses or Oscar in behind him, a lot of what that trio has achieved this year has been down to the movement and work of Torres as well as their own individual brilliance.
We saw it with Spain in the European Championship last summer where Vicente Del Bosque's side played without a recognized front man. Chelsea does not play anywhere near the level the Spanish national team does, but its a similar system whereby the team is geared to score, not just one player.
Indeed, the Blues themselves adopted this very strategy against Juventus in the Champions League when they visited Turin in November. Hazard played as the lone striker, but with the Blues losing that clash 3-0, it could be seen as backfiring.
The point is, however, that the role of the striker at Chelsea is beyond its traditional definition. It's why a Torres-Ba combination wouldn't work, and if they were to try it, it would take a lot more than a few training sessions to perfect.
Ba's role with the Blues is the same he played at Newcastle, but the outcome is geared to something very much different.
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