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Chelsea's Biggest Need in Final Week of Transfer Window

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24:  Chelsea celebrate after Diego Costa of Chelsea scores to make it 0-1 during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on January 24, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images
Garry HayesFeatured Columnist IVNovember 6, 2016

Undefeated in their seven matches under manager Guus Hiddink, Chelsea have shown signs of gradually finding their feet in recent weeks.

Just two Premier League wins in that sequence tells us that undefeated record flatters to deceive, however.

Hiddink has made the Blues harder to beat than they have been at any stage of 2015/16, but now the time has come for the Blues to start winning games consistently as they attempt to deliver on their outside hopes of a top-four finish.

Pulling that off is going to be tough, but with a week remaining in the transfer window there's still time for Chelsea to make the sort of changes that can shape their squad for the final months of the season.

One positive we have already seen this week is the imminent transfer of Ramires to Chinese outfit Jiangsu Suning, per BBC Sport.

The Brazilian's departure will reduce the numbers available to Hiddink in the short term, but that £25 million fee for a fringe player could play a vital part in re-energising Chelsea's campaign. Not only that, we should see more of the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, which can only be a good thing.

With that money from Ramires to reinvest, Chelsea have the potential to come out of January looking stronger.

Chelsea's Brazilian-born Spanish striker Diego Costa (C) is helped from the field injured past Chelsea's Dutch manager Guus Hiddink (R) during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge in London on January 16
JUSTIN TALLIS/Getty Images

One area of concern between now and May remains with their strikers. There aren't enough goals in this Chelsea side, with Diego Costa the only reliable source these past few weeks.

It's paramount that Chelsea address that.

It's been a welcome return to form for Costa—he's scored six goals in his last six appearances—but with every knock he receives in matches, the feeling of anxiety from the Chelsea bench is palpable.

Should Costa pick up a long-term injury, Chelsea are going to struggle more than they already have.

Against Arsenal, Costa hobbled off for the second game in succession—a shin injury did him in against Everton—and the lack of threat on each occasion was clear.

For all his talents, it seems Loic Remy has suffered greatly at playing a bit-part role at Stamford Bridge. Injuries haven't helped, either, leaving confidence in Remy to produce in Costa's absence at a low point.

We know what he's capable of, yet the sight of him constantly running into offside positions against Arsenal hampered Hiddink's side on Sunday. It gave the 10-man Gunners a bit of impetus, with Chelsea unable to sustain any sort of pressure in the closing stages of the game.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal battles for the ball with Loic Remy of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on January 24, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Arsenal didn't threaten too much, but they did enjoy more possession in Chelsea's half as a result of Remy's inability to keep the game alive. When the ball went upfield, it wasn't long before it was coming right back at the Chelsea defence.

That's just one part of the game. Scoring goals is the currency every striker trades in, and Remy hasn't shown he can do it consistently right now. He has just three for the season, with his last strike coming more than a month ago in the 2-1 loss to Leicester City.

Hiddink also seems reluctant to give Chelsea's younger front men, Patrick Bamford and Bertrand Traore, an opportunity. With Radamel Falcao still sidelined with a muscle injury, it means Chelsea must look to the transfer market to strengthen.

As the Blues look to target the top four, they can't do it with just Costa.

One place to start the search for reinforcements is in Germany for a player Chelsea know all too well.

Javier Hernandez made a habit of scoring against them in a Manchester United shirt—his record stands at an impressive eight goals in 12 games—and he has continued that sort of form in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen.

Every week a Hernandez goal comes back to haunt Louis van Gaal, the Manchester United manager who allowed him to leave last summer for just £7.3 million.

Leverkusen's Mexican striker Javier Hernandez celebrates after scoring during the German first division Bundesliga football match Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs Borussia Moenchengladbach in Leverkusen, western Germany, on December 12, 2015. 
 / AFP / PATRIK STOLL
PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty Images

While United have struggled to hit the back of the net, Hernandez has clocked up a healthy 19 goals in all competitions for his new club. It shows the Mexican has been severely undervalued and underrated.

Persuading Leverkusen to allow their prized asset to depart after just six months in Germany will be a major sticking point for Chelsea, as would convincing Hernandez to leave guaranteed first-team football for a rivalry with Costa.

The potential rewards are enough for Chelsea to surely push the boat out and attempt to make it happen.

Hernandez's impressive return in the Bundesliga reaffirms what we saw of him in English football. He is a massive goal threat and would add an extra dynamic to Chelsea's forward line.

For a team that relies heavily on playing counter-attacking football, he is ideal. With his rapid pace, Hernandez exposes defenders, meaning his team can attack quickly and efficiently.

The decisive moment at the Emirates on Sunday wasn't the goal Costa scored, but it was when he proved too clever and quick for Per Mertesacker, who brought him down and received a red card for his troubles.

It was Costa's pace over those first few yards that pulled him away from the German, and given the buildup to that moment, exposing him was clearly a tactic Chelsea had worked on.

Manchester United's Mexican striker Javier Hernandez (C) dribbles the ball  during the FA Cup quarter final replay football match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, England on April 1, 2013. AFP PHOTO/IAN KINGTONRE
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

With Hernandez on their team, we would expect to see more moments like that. Defences would be wary of Chelsea again, and with Cesc Fabregas loading the gun, it's a mouthwatering prospect.

Hernandez is versatile, too. We saw at Manchester United that he can play through the middle or occupy a supporting role for a lone striker, cutting in from one of those three attacking midfield positions that Hiddink continues to deploy at Stamford Bridge.

Quite why Hernandez wasn't pursued by one of Europe's elite clubs last summer remains baffling. Especially for sides like Chelsea who were—and remain—desperate for a player of his talents.

After 23 games last season, Chelsea were averaging 2.26 goals per game. They didn't have a leaky defence, either, and it gave them the platform to go on and win the title.

In the present, Chelsea's tally is an average of just 1.39 goals per game. That needs to improve drastically if they are to build on these first seven games under Hiddink and pull off their targets.

They'll only do that with a striker of Hernandez's quality to complement Costa.

The clock to transfer deadline day is ticking, Guus.

 

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes.

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