Chelsea FC: Who Should Jose Mourinho Start Up Front Against Schalke?
It is a must-win match for Chelsea, one that will place them at the top of Group E—that is, unless Basel beat Steaua Bucharest by more than four goals. A second group loss puts advancing to the knockout stages further in peril after the upset to Basel.
However, despite the run of good form, Jose Mourinho has a bit of a selection dilemma ahead of the match. Who should start up front?
Samuel Eto'o finally broke the duck by Chelsea strikers with a goal on Saturday, but should he be the man to lead the Chelsea attack against Schalke? Let's take a look at Mourinho's options for Tuesday's game.
Remember him? Demba Ba finally had a chance to prove himself when he was selected to start against Norwich a few weeks ago. But despite a promising performance and an assist, it would seem that Ba did not do enough to earn a starting berth or even an appearance in Saturday's match against Cardiff City.
However, with a packed schedule, rotation is a necessity, and Ba could be selected against Schalke. However, given Mourinho's other options and Ba's patchy form in a Chelsea shirt, it is unlikely to be anything other than a substitute appearance for the man from Senegal.
To say that Fernando Torres is still a polarizing figure at Stamford Bridge would be an understatement, but despite failing to score this season, the Spaniard has put in some good performances that have led him to be many people's first-choice striker in this Chelsea squad.
Torres had a great game against Tottenham, but has been cursing his luck ever since with a sending-off late in that game and an injury 10 minutes into the following match against Steaua Bucharest.
However, he is fit once again and could be the best choice for the starting role, as he has a good record in Europe and could offer a break for Eto'o ahead of Sunday's match with Manchester City.
Despite being shrouded in controversy following Saturday's match, the one goal that Eto'o has to his name has to place him just above the others in the Chelsea pecking order.
However, the question remains over whether he will start on Tuesday.
Following the Champions League match with Schalke, Chelsea have a tough Premier League match with Manchester City, followed by a fourth-round Capital One Cup clash with Arsenal on Oct. 29.
Should Mourinho go with Eto'o against Schalke and hope that he can build up a run of form? Or should he save the Cameroonian for the weekend's match with City?
Although Samuel Eto'o has a goal to his name, Fernando Torres is the man who should start up front against Schalke on Tuesday.
He was building up some promising form prior to his injury, and if he can put in a good performance against Schalke, he will give Mourinho the good kind of selection headache that every manager craves.
The worst-case scenario is a disappointing performance from Torres.
If this happens, Mourinho can pull Eto'o from the bench and call on Chelsea's other attacking talent to pick up the slack. The Man City match is likely to be the tougher competition, and this match can either provide some rest for Eto'o or a chance for Torres to find his feet.
Ba does not have enough playing time to even warrant consideration for such an important match, although it is foolish to put any selection possibility out of Mourinho's reach.
Regardless of who starts, the next two weeks could have a lasting impact on Chelsea's season—and winning is a must.