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Chelsea Midseason Report Card: Forwards

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I know how you feel, Nico.
I know how you feel, Nico.

Nicolas Anelka: The famously sulky Frenchman's had an up and down season with the Blues, but he's still high up on the scoring charts with ten goals in all competitions this season (just three of those have come in the league, however). Anelka's been typically deployed on the right where he's been reasonably effective, but his movement has totally disappeared whenever he's been asked to lead the line in league matches. Anelka has the speed, skill and intelligence to make a difference in matches, but he's been another victim of Chelsea's unfortunate two-month slump. Really should be doing more with what he has. C-

Didier Drogba: After a blistering start to the season Drogba suffered from a bout with malaria and hasn't been same since - unsurprisingly as the disease often takes months to run its course. Since missing the 0-0 draw at Villa Park, Drogba's been slow of movement, easier to knock off the ball, and less prone to be in interesting positions. Despite the problems he still has seven league goals (two from penalties) and six assists, pointing towards a perhaps less selfish style of play. Chelsea would do better to give Drogba some rest - he can't do the job he usually does at half fitness, and all too often the rest of the team tries to use him as some sort of magical trump card by punting the ball long and hoping he scores. This only works sometimes. Strong start, weak finish - malaria! B-

Gael Kakuta: Flicks and tricks galore are what you'll see when Gael Kakuta takes the pitch. Blisteringly fast and insanely skillful, Kakuta's yet to make the adjustments he needs to succeed at the first team level, where the defenders aren't nearly as easy to drift pass. Needs to dribble less and pass more (and more accurately). Decision-making will come with experience. Kakuta's just signed a new deal with Chelsea that will keep him with the club until 2013, so now's the perfect time to send him out on loan. Displays the skills that will make him great but needs time to get there. C+

Salomon Kalou: Kalou is the first man off the bench if any of the regular strikers are unable to play, which is frequently. Viewed as a reserve forward, he's actually done amazingly well, scoring six goals and notching two assists in just eight league starts. However, he frustrates due to his unique combination of superb speed, phenomenal technical ability, great positioning, and the decision-making of a mildly concussed puppy. He also can't aim yet. Kalou gets a lot of grief from being on the edge of being a legitimately gifted player and failing to reach that level, but he really shouldn't be expected to perform as well as the first-choice players. Exactly what you should expect from your first reserve striker, albeit in a slightly unorthodox way. C

Florent Malouda: A revelation last season, Malouda's taken to Chelsea's 4-3-3 in a way few other players have. A phenomenal dribbler of the ball with plenty of speed, Malouda has caused havoc on the right side of every defence he's played against this season. His effectiveness generally is determined by the amount of support he receives on the left - if Ashley Cole is cut off at left-back he has trouble unless there's a left-drifting midfielder as an outlet. Lots of goals, beautiful play. One of the few Chelsea players who hasn't had a major frustrating spell. B+

Daniel Sturridge: Carlo Ancelotti rates Sturridge as the quickest player he's ever worked with, and he's certainly dangerous on the break. However, he's get to get much of an opportunity to start at his preferred position of centre forward, instead being deployed on the right flank where he cuts inside to shoot with his left foot. It's hard to figure Sturridge out without seeing him given an extensive trial in the middle, but he's certainly shown flashes of potential. Total lack of a right foot may be a serious problem, however. Does his best away from his natural position, but not yet good enough to start. C