AVB’s striker situation could kick ‘the Kid’ back into gear.

by James Prentice

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou’s imminent January departure for the African Cup of Nations, along with the sale of Nicolas Anelka to Chinese Super League Club Shanghai Shenhua has left manager André Villas-Boas facing a possibly head-scratching dilemma.

The loss of these three household names could force goal-shy Fernando Torres back in to the equation at Stamford Bridge, a move which some would consider a risk.

Torres’ £50 million deadline day transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea in January of this year, officially made him the most expensive Spanish player in history and sent Chelsea fans into a false trance of optimism. The Spaniard’s undeniable talent and eye for goal in a Liverpool shirt has not been replicated during his time in West London and a dismal goalscoring record of five goals in 35 games has since ensued.

Out of form and now seemingly out of favour, Villas-Boas has opted against including El Niño (‘The Kid’ in Spanish) in the starting XI for the Blues’ last eight matches. His last goal for Chelsea was as far back as October 19th, when he grabbed two in a five-nil Champions League drubbing at home to current Belgian champions K.R.C. Genk.

Despite the lack of game time given to Torres, Villas-Boas has repeatedly defended the striker with claims that he is worth his price tag. He then went on to say: “He is one of the best assist-makers at the club and the team are getting wins out of it.” But will he still be saying this if Torres continues to disappoint and he’s left without a Drogba to fall back on?

One encouraging note for the Portuguese manager has been the recent good form of 22-year-old English forward Daniel Sturridge, who after a successful loan spell at Bolton Wanderers last season, appears to have dramatically improved his game, replacing Torres in the pecking order in the process. Sturridge has grabbed the headlines during the 2011/12 season with an impressive tally of seven goals and two assists in his 11 Premier League appearances.

Sturridge’s rise to form culminated in Chelsea’s 2-1 comeback victory at home to league leaders Manchester City on Monday, a result that put his teams’ league campaign back on track. Until then, critics continually suggested that Sturridge was not a ‘big game’ player, insinuating that he could only show his class against the lesser opposition of the division. Oh how wrong they were! The wide-man near enough tortured Gael Clichy up until his second yellow dismissal in the 58th minute. Whether or not he can maintain his good run of form however, is obviously yet to be seen.

With the dense festive fixture-list rapidly approaching, Villas-Boas is left with the task of assessing his striking options ready for possible spending in the January transfer window. Depending on his decisions, the coming months will have an overwhelming effect on the futures of the Chelsea boss and his £50,000,000 man.

Written By James Prentice
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