Chelsea has a problem. They have four quality strikers, but they only start two strikers each game.
This wasn't as big of a problem earlier in the season when they only had three strikers—Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou. Drogba and Anelka started most games and Kalou would usually come off the bench to relieve one of them.
Everything was fine, great even, at the start of the season. Chelsea was dominating the Premier League. They were 8-1-1 through the first 10 games.
Then something happened in November and December. Perhaps they got too cocky. Maybe they thought they had already clinched the Premier League and they could just put it on autopilot. In those two months they went 2-4-3, and before they knew it, they had lost their lead and control of the Premier League.
January wasn't much better. They went 2-1-1, but were hardly dominating again. With January also came the acquisition of Fernando Torres.
It's unclear if the struggles in November and December prompted Chelsea to get Torres. Chelsea's owner, Roman Abramovich, always had an interest in Torres. Torres wanted to move, the owner had the money to make it happen, and the club was struggling enough to justify the transfer. Before you knew it, Chelsea had four quality strikers.
Everyone speculated as to how Carlo Ancelotti would handle the situation. Ancelotti had to start Torres for a couple of reasons:
1. He is the newest player on the club and needed an opportunity to get to know the other players and find some sort of chemistry with those players. He needed to learn their style and they his.
2. He is a premier striker and arguably one of the best in the world.
3. He was the owner's prize acquisition and the most expensive transfer in club history. Ancelotti had no choice but to play him, even if Torres was struggling; which he was.
Torres didn't have the immediate impact as expected. In fact, he has hardly had any sort of impact, at least not of the goal scoring kind.
Yet if having four quality strikers for two positions on the field wasn't a big enough problem, Chelsea have an even bigger problem—somehow the club is playing some of their best soccer of the season.
The Torres experiment started off slow, with Chelsea going 1-1-1 in the Premier League in February. But then things started rolling. They cruised through the first round of the Champions League and are 3-0 in the Premier League in March, including convincing victories over Manchester United and Manchester City.
Ancelotti has used various starting combos since Torres arrived and it is hard to say that any one combo has been better than others.
Chelsea wouldn't have a problem if one of the four strikers wasn't playing well. Granted, Torres isn't playing his best soccer, but he's not going anywhere. Most of the combos have all had some sort of success. All four are playing well together and playing quality football.
Against Manchester United, Ancelotti started Torres and Anelka. Chelsea scored the winning goal after Anelka subbed off for Drogba. However, the goal was a result of a penalty kick and not the heroics of Drogba or Torres.
A similar thing occurred recently against Manchester City, when Torres and Kalou started. Chelsea couldn't get anything going and it wasn't until Anelka and Drogba subbed on that Chelsea scored their two goals. Yet Anelka and Drogba didn't score either goal. However, anyone watching the game could tell that Chelsea appeared to be re-energized after the two subbed on.
Which is what is amazing about Chelsea's current situation. At least on its face, everyone appears to be happy. Of course all four of the strikers would like to be starting. But they all seem interested in winning and are all playing inspired football.
Which is great, as long as Chelsea continues to win. If they start to slide and start losing though, things could go sour quickly. Players are generally fine with changed roles or less playing time if it equates to winning.
Of course, even if Chelsea continues to win, it is doubtful that they will be happy like this in the long term. Once the season ends, one, if not two of the strikers will leave.
Torres isn't going anywhere and Kalou is only 25 years old, much younger than Anelka (32) and Drogba (33).
Both Drogba and Anelka would likely want to stay with Chelsea, especially if they finish off the season strong. But neither one will want to stay if it means spending most of the time on the bench.
Maybe they will stay and Chelsea will be able to continue their fine form and the mixing of the forwards through next season. That is unlikely though.
Chelsea fans should just enjoy the present and hope it continues until the end of the season, as this is likely the final chapter for Anelka or Drogba, and possibly even both.