Chelsea's Predicament: Sign Samuel Eto'o, or Stick with Torres, Ba and Lukaku
As Chelsea and Manchester United contested a dull 0-0 draw on Monday night—a match that could well have helped treat insomnia—questions were raised in an attempt to understand the reasoning behind Jose Mourinho's decision to start proceedings without a recognised striker.
Had the 50-year-old ran out of patience with Chelsea's inconsistent strikers? Perhaps he scrutinised their credentials in the many months prior to officially signing for the Blues? Could the tactical change have been a way of showing Wayne Rooney that there's currently a vacancy within the squad—an open invitation of sorts?
Only Mourinho knows the answer. At least, the Chelsea faithful hope he has the answer.
With three days to go until the end of the Premier League summer transfer window, perhaps Jose Mourinho will turn to someone he's previously worked with at Inter Milan—Samuel Eto'o; an experienced striker to solve his current predicament.
It's no secret that Anzhi Makhachkala's owner, Suleyman Kerimov, has publicly announced a change of strategy having failed to reach short-term targets since taking over at the start of 2011. A third-placed league finish and elimination from the Europa League at the hands of Newcastle United is as good as it's got for Anzhi, leading to an unfortunate mass fire sale of global superstars, including the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Should Jose Mourinho snap up Samuel Eto'o or continue to persist with the inconsistency of Fernando Torres and Demba Ba?
You may have noticed that I didn't include Romelu Lukaku in that list, which was for the simple reason that he's not yet been given a fair crack of the whip at Chelsea.
The Belgian youngster impressed while on loan at West Bromwich Albion last season, producing a plethora of mature, composed and consistent performances that resulted in the 20-year-old finishing as the sixth-highest goalscorer in the Premier League with 17 goals, aided by a shot accuracy of 66 percent—the highest accuracy of any forward to make 30 appearances or more.
But what of Demba Ba and Fernando Torres?
The Senegalese international scored two league goals for the Blues last season following a move to London during the 2013 January transfer window. While ex-Liverpool striker Fernando Torres lacks the killer instinct, sharpness and eye for goal that was clearly evident during his time on Merseyside. Many bemoan a possible lack of confidence from the Spaniard, but the change in tactical strategy has played a part in reshaping the Torres we once knew.
Liverpool defended deeper, encouraging opposition teams to advance. In turn, this gave Fernando Torres plenty of space to spin off the shoulder of defenders into the space beyond, with Xabi Alonso supplying the majority of ammunition.
However, opposing teams are much more likely to retreat when facing Chelsea, due to their global reputation and midfield talent. With Chelsea utilising a 4-2-3-1 formation that actively encourages slick one-touch passing around the 18-yard box, Fernando Torres is frequently suffocated for space as the midfield narrows and tightens around him; a claustrophobic nightmare.
With Demba Ba struggling for goals since January, Fernando Torres failing to set Stamford Bridge alight and Romelu Lukaku warming the substitutes bench, Jose Mourinho lacks a goalscorer with the consistency to help Chelsea challenge for silverware.
Samuel Eto'o may not be a long-term solution, and his pace may have dwindled upon entering his 30s, but the three-time Champions League winner's availability may just encourage "the Happy One" to forget about a certain 27-year-old Englishman.
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