It’s hard to believe Jose Mourinho actually means it when he makes it sound like the only problems for his team are not being able to convert chances. There are more issues than scoring goals, but it does provide as a warning sign to both Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o that they have to do better.
Demba Ba isn’t going to be used very often this season, while the Spaniard and the Cameroonian will probably rotate at the lone striker position, and simply have to do better than what we’ve seen so far. While Eto’o can be excused for reaching a new league and a new team, obviously needing some more time to hone his senses, Torres is one long story of disappointment, peppered with moments of brilliance that make people hope that here comes El Ninio of the past once more.
Chelsea have scored six goals so far this season in the Premier League and the European Super Cup; only one of them has been by a striker (Torres vs Bayern Munich). While five matches aren’t a big enough of a sample size to get conclusions from, seeing Chelsea play usually doesn’t seem to put the number 9 player at the focus of everything, and we’re not talking about Torres alone.
Eto’o had a couple of chances that in better days would have gone in when Chelsea played Everton, and Mourinho tried to put all of the focus after the match on the misses, instead of his team breaking down in the midfield in the second half. However, it might have more to do with the problems up front than it would seem.
Without trust in strikers to score goals, and that’s been a problem for Chelsea for almost three years, it forces the midfield to push higher up. While it’s not such a problem that players like Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar, who might be the best finisher of the three even if he is the inferior player, it does become a problem when it makes them neglect their defensive assignments. It’s a problem when Frank Lampard, still (and never will be) not used to being a part of a central/defensive midfield duo forgets about his responsibilities, and plays like there’s nothing he should be doing next to Mikel or Ramires.
It’s easy blaming the strikers for not scoring, but it might have to do with the trio behind them not playing at the level you’d expect from them. Mata is in and out of the lineup, while Eden Hazard and Oscar, both getting plenty of credit from Mourinho, aren’t consistent in their delivery and passing. It’s also easy to see there’s too much space between that AM trio that wasn’t there during their best moments last season.
But football, at the core of it, is a simple game; a game of goals, and in order to win matches and trophies, you need a striker that the team has faith in. Fernando Torres was that kind of player in the Europa League for Rafa Benitez last season, and Mourinho needs that he or Eto’o step up and match that level of finishing so he’ll have other excuses to use when his team doesn’t win.