The dust has settled on a useful transfer window for Chelsea.
As Jose Mourinho prepares his troops to take on the might of Manchester City, the Portuguese boss can begin to get an idea of how his dealings will affect the rest of the Blues' season.
Prior to kick-off, Mourinho made an absurd statement that is sure to irritate more than a few Chelsea fans, as reported by Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph:
Mourinho is also maintaining his attempt to position Chelsea as the underdogs and would regard finishing runners-up this season to Manchester City as a positive achievement.
"If we finish second it's fantastic."
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While it's clear the former Real Madrid boss is trying to ensure there is no pressure on his team ahead of their Feb. 3 clash with City, suggesting he would be pleased with the Premier League runners-up spot is incomprehensible—especially when you consider Chelsea spent more money than any other English club during the recent transfer window, per Joe Wright of Goal.com.
Mourinho made three excellent signings in the form of Nemanja Matic, Mohamed Salah and Kurt Zouma. While Zouma remains at Saint-Etienne for the remainder of the season, both Matic and Salah are unlikely to have major roles just yet.
With players such as Eden Hazard, Willian, Frank Lampard, Ramires, Oscar and David Luiz performing well in midfield, Matic and Salah are likely to be given bit-part roles until they settle in West London.
While this bodes well for the future, Mourinho failed to deliver on the one aspect of Chelsea's squad that threatens to undermine their entire season.
He failed to sign a new striker.
Now, Samuel Eto'o's recent run of goals has been a major boost for Chelsea. He has scored six goals in 15 Premier League appearances, not a terrible return by any means, per WhoScored.com.
Unfortunately, he was largely gifted three of these against a shambolic Manchester United defence, and in the following two matches against Stoke and West Ham, he highlighted why he shouldn't lead Chelsea's title charge.
Stamford Bridge is not seeing the Eto'o of old. He doesn't possess the outright pace of his Barcelona ghost, nor does he boast the lethality of his Inter spectre. At 32 years old, he is understandably slower, less instinctive and perhaps a tad out of shape.
Eto'o isn't Chelsea's first choice striker through merit. Fernando Torres' knee ligament injury rules him out for the foreseeable future, reported by the club's official website, while Demba Ba's limited threat ensures he is likely to stay on one Premier League goal for the remainder of the season, per WhoScored.com.
Mourinho is forced to utilise Eto'o—who is the best of a bad bunch. Peer north toward the Etihad, and Manuel Pellegrini can replace any one of his injured strikers with a world-class equivalent.
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Diego Costa's name flitted about during the transfer window, reported by the Mirror. Wayne Rooney's name may have caressed the lips of many Chelsea supporters, as noted by Martin Lipton of the same publication. Radamel Falcao, before injury, could have been an option, reported by ESPN.
While the aforementioned trio may have been unrealistic in January, they represent the stature of striker who should be firing Chelsea toward the title. It needn't be a panic buy to try to "score half-a-dozen goals" as an "emergency", as Mourinho said it would be, per Danny Griffiths of the Metro.
"We're waiting for the summer to do the right thing in that area, to do exactly what the team needs," said the boss.
The right thing, as the rest of the season is destined to show, would have been to round off the team with a world-class striker—not hope one of the inconsistent trio suddenly enjoys a midseason epiphany in front of goal.