As we all know, a lot has been made of our beloved Chelsea’s lack of reliable goal-scoring strikers. As 2nd favourites for the title, we ought to have at least one striker who consistently scores and makes his place in the eleven his own, much like Hazard, JT, Cech, Ivanovic and our now vacuum of Drogba have. So far we simply get short, energetic bursts from each of our 3 strikers. This is well documented and illustrated by Eto’os hat-trick v Manchester United, and Torres has in lesser quantities against Schalke this season.
Our Premier League rivals, as we all know too well, and I feel obliged to remind you again, have the desired reliable strikers: Man City- Negredo, Dzeko and Aguero. Manchester United- Rooney, Hernandez, R V-P and Welbeck (6 goals in 6 games in December before you argue), Liverpool- ‘SAS’ of Suarez and Sturridge, and of course Arsenal have a so far injury-free Oliver Giroud and Bednter’s heading. Even Spurs’ Adebayor is scoring now?!
Well what do we do? Splash the cash on Diego Costa, Jackson Martinez, Ibrahimovic, or even an expensive loan move for Falcao? Nah... I believe our current crop of Ba, Eto’o and El Niño will suffice for the season. The title, or at least a cup, this season should be well within our reach with the rest of the team performing so well behind them. We’re managing quite well so far, even by our lofty standards.
It isn't as easy as our Premier League rivals for the strikers to score goals, however. Our team is geared up by Jose for the midfielder’s to shine, with the strikers helping connect the team and a mere distraction for opposition defenders. I’m not too sure why they’re distracted by them, but it’s working. Drogba was world-class and so well suited to this Chelsea model, and he thrived to the point of being voted our best ever player. Our midfielders have scored 36 out of 59 goals this season in all competitions- the most in the Premier League after over-performing Arsenal with 38 goals from their midfielders. Not too shabby, eh?
Thanks to our scouting network and a £20 million investment in Cobham for our academy, this is where Patrick Bamford, and more famously Romelu Lukaku come in handy. To a lesser extent Islam Feruz, Dominic Solanke and Isaiah ‘Izzy’ Brown all have potential, but have more 'raw' talent than Lukaku and Bamford.
Nationality: Belgian/Democratic Republic of Congo
The much publicised Lukaku was bought under AV-B's reign along with fellow young Belgians, the departed Kevin de Bruyne and loaned out Thibaut Courtois. Like Courtois, Lukaku is yet to actually have a run in the first team. Successful loan spells at West Brom (17 BPL goals) last season and Everton (9 BPL goals so far) this season have seen fans scream for his return to Chelsea, especially as he consistently finds the net (cough...Eto'o...Ba...Torres...cough). Lately he has struggled for goals at Merseyside since his explosive start to the season, but has replaced goals with 5 assists in his last 9 games. Huge potential for the beast.
When he joined us from Nottingham Forest for £1.5 million in January 2012, he connected well with Romelu Lukaku in the youth teams. Patrick went on loan at the beginning of this season to League One's MK Dons and started almost every match. He was their top goal scorer with 17 goals until he was loaned to Derby County this January. He should react well to this step up in quality, having already bagged one goal for them. A rare talent who possesses great goal awareness.
Has won and been runners-up of the FA Youth Cup since we nicked him from Celtic’s Academy in 2011. At 18 years old now, he’s represented every Scotland age group. Despite his limited heading capabilities at 5"4", he’s been scoring goals using his explosive pace, controlled dribbling and reliable finishing. His excelled in Europe’s Next-Gen tournament with 7 goals, and has been scoring plenty in domestic competitions this year. Powerful Scot who can score screamers as well as tap-ins.
Also capable at the ‘No 10’ position, he has slotted very well since he joined us from West Brom last year. He’s fast, English, got a David Luiz/Willian/Nathan Ake afro, can calmly pick a defense splitting pass as well as finishing like a veteran. Like team mate Islam Feruz, he has been an integral, undroppable part of our U21s this season. Another real stand out on the pitch. Strong on the ball and technically excellent.
Dominic Solanke has already scored 16 goals for our U18 team this season at only 16 years of age. This is quite a feat for a boy yet to take his GCSEs. He has a bright future ahead, and should sign a contract when he reaches 18. Another natural finisher who could develop into something special.
We see here these guys all have significant potential, and can hopefully dramatically improve into the desired reliable goal scorer which we so lack. It will be all the more satisfying not spending millions of pounds on a flop for Torres mark II, despite his appreciated efforts and occasional goals, and seeing the likes of Lukaku, Bamford etc mature into a feared, 30-goals-a-season striker whom we would have so patiently waited for.
I can see Lukaku playing the Drogba role (whom Lukaku adored as a teenager), and perhaps even bettering Drogba himself. Don’t forget, we only got Drogba when he was 26 years old, and it took Drogba two full seasons to break the 20 goal mark in the league. Lukaku, on the other hand, has scored 17 premier league goals for West Brom at 19 years of age, and 9 BPL goals and counting for Everton. Lukaku has also gotten his team mates 6 assists in the Premier League this season, the eighth highest in the league, and his tallies are only going to improve (hopefully). His link up play with fellow young star Eden Hazard should be telepathic, due to their closeness when they grew up in Belgium together.
Bamford has excelled for League One’s MK Dons, scoring 17 goals for them before he moved to Derby County this January and scored the winner with a beauty on his debut, coming off the bench. He was on course to score 30+ goals in League One had he stayed there. League One or not, 30+ goals in a season is fantastic, let alone for a 19 year old. He’s also English, something our squad is currently distinctly lacking.
In my opinion these two should spear head our attack in a few years time. After JT, Ashley and Lamps pass on, other characters will rise as leaders (Luiz? Cahill? Mikel? Ivanovic?), and the rest of our relatively young team will hit their peak with Lukaku and Bamford banging in the goals. By then Jose will be integrating our youths in, and, with the handy billions of Roman to fall back on, we will have an cataclysmically destructive cycle of Chelsea players ripping up the Premier League and crushing Europe.