Chelsea FC: Grading Striker Demba Ba's Start for the Blues

Kevin Stott@@KevinStott11Senior Analyst IFebruary 25, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24:  Demba Ba of Chelsea wears a protective mask during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on February 24, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

So far, so good for Demba Ba at Stamford Bridge.

Although the 27-year-old striker hasn't seen an enormous amount of playing time for the Blues since coming over from Newcastle United early in the winter transfer market, what he has shown should totally justify management's decision to sign the Senegalese international to a healthy three-and-and-half year deal.

And while most Chelsea transfer periods are more like biannual Christmas spending sprees with rich Uncle Roman using the elite football leagues across the world as his shopping malls, this January's ended up being relatively quiet despite all the rumors of Radamel Falcao and Marouane Fellaini dancing through the heads of Blues fans.

Chelsea sold Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool for £12 million and signed Ba from the Toon for £7 million and actually ended up with £5 million more in its coffers than it started with when all was said and done.

So who says Abramovich can't be a little thrifty when he wants to?

By getting Ba for such a great price and wrapping him up for these golden years of his football career, the Blues went a long way to starting to solve the problem they suddenly found themselves having last season at the striker spot when club legend Didier Drogba starting showing signs of aging, Fernando Torres stayed ice-cold and Sturridge began voicing displeasure with his playing time.

Like fellow newbies Eden Hazard, Oscar, Victor Moses and César Azpilicueta, it will take Ba some time to assimilate into his new surroundings in West London, gel with his new teammates and get used to coming in off the bench. But once he does, expect some really big things from him.

Ba prefers to play the role of lone striker and fits in perfectly with Chelsea's current 4-2-3-1 tactical formation and benefits from his large 6-foot-2-inch frame, massive strides and aggressive ability to play balls in the air.

Against Southampton in the third round of the FA Cup in his Blues debut, Ba scored twice and gave Chelsea fans a little taste of his talents in the box, then tallied his first English Premier League goal for the club 11 days later against those same Saints.

In his return to Tyneside and St. James' Park on Feb. 2, Ba tried to show off some of those skills in front of goal but was unjustly rewarded with a kick in the face by former teammate Fabricio Coloccini and a broken nose.

No red or yellow card—or penalty kick—was issued, and the Magpies went on to beat Chelsea 3-2 as Ba was forced to leave the match with his injury.

So far, Blues interim manager Rafael Benítez has only started Ba four times in Premier League play and his goal against Southampton is his only top-flight tally for Chelsea to date, but time should reveal him to be a 20-goal-plus a season scorer.

One of those four starts came on Sunday against the defending league champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, and Ba again showed his ability to wreak havoc in front of the goal when he caused a collision between himself and the Sky Blues Joe Hart, which resulted in a Frank Lampard penalty kick and a nice save by the City goalkeeper.

Once he's given the chance to become the main striker for the European champions, Ba—tied for fourth in the EPL with 14 goals—will become even more prolific and valuable for the Blues and their offensive strikeforce.

And once Ba emerges from the shadow of being Torres's back-up at striker, Chelsea and its fans will see just how big the signing of this true talent really is.

>Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11