Chelsea have had a very busy summer.
But it was in the transfer market that Chelsea were most active.
After departing with over £75 million, they acquired the likes of Marko Marin, Eden Hazard, and Brazilian prodigy Oscar among others.
Yet despite this glut of signings, the club remains somewhat short in the striking department.
Though Wigan forward Victor Moses was recruited, the void left by Didier Drogba has been left unfilled.
Granted, Daniel Sturridge and Fernando Torres remain at Stamford Bridge; but like Moses, Sturridge has featured prominently as a winger in recent seasons, and he naturally tends to gravitate to the wider positions.
Thus, Torres is now Chelsea’s only out-and-out striker.
Roberto Di Matteo was continually linked with a number of top European forwards throughout the close-season.
Will Chelsea live to regret this?
And is the departure of Didier Drogba really that damaging?
Let’s take a look at the facts.
In the Ivorian’s most potent season, he managed 29 goals in 32 games, helping the Blues secure the 2009/10 Premier League title.
They amassed an outstanding 103 goals, which was a Premier League record.
Drogba also struck the equaliser and the decisive penalty kick in last year’s monumental Champions’ League final, as well as the winning goals in the 2010 and 2012 FA Cup finals.
Conversely, it is noticeable that in the seasons that Drogba was less effectual, so were the team as a whole.
He had a poor ratio of 11 goals in 36 games in 2010/11 and the Blues only managed 69 league goals, finishing nine points behind leaders Manchester United. Last season, he was even less prolific in the league, with five goals from 24 games. Chelsea languished in sixth place: a whopping 25 points behind champions Manchester City.
From this evidence, we can conclude that Drogba has been a pivotal figure for Chelsea. To say that he single-handedly won the club silverware is surely a step too far, but he played a key role nonetheless.
From a more subjective perspective, one could argue that Drogba’s success during the domineering 2009/10 campaign was merely a case of being in the right place at the right time, and that the likes of Nicolas Anelka may have been just as fruitful in front of goal as Drogba had they operated in his more central position.
Such arguments remain valid, but cannot completely undermine Drogba’s contribution.
Besides, it was not just the goals that he brought to the table. His unique style offered Chelsea both a plan A and plan B.
His pace and dribbling abilities made him a real threat when running at defenders, but his strength and physicality made him equally as dangerous in the air. Drogba was that rare hybrid between the classic English centre forward and the more cultured continental marksmen.
Without such options, Chelsea appear to be lacking in depth up top.
And though eight goals in their opening three league games may suggest that they are coping perfectly well without Drogba, the club could well run out of steam given that Torres is now their only natural centre-forward.
The Spaniard has shown glimpses of his old self in the opening weeks of the current campaign, and he also did so during Euro 2012 this summer. However, to expect him to fire Chelsea to glory this season without any true support may well be too high of an ask.
In what could be a 60-plus game season, strength in depth is a vital commodity for a team in Chelsea’s position. If the club could have added the likes of Cavani or Hulk to their ranks, their chances of success this year would have been greatly inflated.
But as it stands, the club are in danger of becoming like London neighbours Arsenal—an exceptionally gifted side that unfortunately lack the firepower to cap off their creative genius.
Will the goals dry out at the Bridge? Or will the inventiveness of their delectable midfield be enough to guide them to success?
Only time will tell, and I may be proved wrong, but it would appear that the recent UEFA Super Cup defeat only highlighted what Chelsea are currently missing.
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