We all know where we stand. Some of us, like me, are on Team Torres, some on Team Drogba. Both sides know who they'd rather have playing up front for Chelsea. Why, though? Why must we choose just one of our options? I know I played a big part in bringing this war to WAGNH by starting and writing my Fernando Torres Reports. I'd like to help end the growing discord on this issue. We shouldn't be fighting over our strikers, we should be supporting both. Didier Drogba is the in-form striker, but he's not going to be able to carry us all season. With Nicolas Anelka off in January, Romelu Lukaku not yet first-team ready, and Daniel Sturridge our best option on the right, it's in our best interest to have both an in-form Fernando Torres and an in-form Didier Drogba.
Since Chelsea destroyed Genk nearly two months ago, Fernando has been limited to late cameos just 3 starts against Arsenal, Genk again, Liverpool in the League Cup, and a second half against Blackburn. In those games, the Chelsea midfield, and the team in general, looked completely feckless and incapable of supporting any striker, let alone Torres, who is well-known for requiring service from the midfield to shine. It is no coincidence for me that no Chelsea striker excelled in our 2011 "bad moment".
At the risk of jinxing it, that moment seems to have ended now, potential walloping at home to City notwithstanding. Why are we suddenly better? The improvement has coincided with Didier Drogba's return to preference, is he responsible? I don't think so. Sure, he's been scoring freely of late, but, in my opinion, the player most responsible for the turnaround in form is Oriol Romeu. Romeu is quickly becoming one of my favourite players. He is one of the best tacklers I've ever seen, and he links our defence and midfield fabulously. Of course, he played in the disastrous 4-4-2 diamond experiment in the League Cup against Liverpool, but none of our players looked good in that one.
I can already hear the accusations that I'm glossing over Drogba's accomplishments since he's regained his starting place. He's scored 4 in 5 games, but against Liverpool and, despite the goal against Leverkusen, he looked very poor. Against Wolves he was anonymous, and was even against Newcastle, though he scored a, frankly, wonderful header in the first half. Yesterday, he was good in the first half, and even better in the second half. He's still not where he was as recently as two seasons ago, and I doubt he ever will be, but he's playing to the level I want to see in a Chelsea striker.
It may sound as if I've left Team Torres for Team Drogba, but I haven't. As I said earlier, I feel the improvement in the team, particularly the midfield with the addition of Romeu is a bigger part of Drogba's return to form. Take last night, for instance. Drogba was certainly the best he's been this season, and his goal in the third minute was a good finish, but the Valencia defence was found wanting. Any striker, given that much time and space, is going to do well. I'll be fair, though, it was still needed a good finish, and Drogba provided it. The assist to Ramires, however, is on Valencia. The run before the pass was good, though the pass shouldn't have come to anything. Ruiz made a mess of it, though, allowing Ramires to score Chelsea's second.
I can't fault Drogba for anything about his second goal. It was an absolute cracker, and an even better pass by Juan Mata. It was truly exquisite. If he can keep providing through-balls like that, I have no doubt anyone could score consistently for us. In fact, Passes like are supposed to be the reason we bought him in the first place. If we look back to his Liverpool career, Fernando Torres made a career out of converting balls like that from Steven Gerrard. Say what you will about his current form, but give him consistent service like that, and he will score plentifully. Chelsea need multiple attacking threats if we're going to do well this season.
That's why this Team Torres v. Team Drogba fighting needs to stop. This was never meant to be about one player replacing another. It was about having more than one option in attack. Torres right now isn't worse than Drogba has been this season, and Drogba isn't better than Torres at his best this season. That's a lesson for us. Any player can go from the lowest low to the highest high and vice versa in just a few games. We need to get behind both, rather than picking one and supporting him while trying to tearing down the other. Let's stop fighting each other, and start being realistic about our strikers. Neither is as good as he used to be, but they're good enough together[, though not playing together,] to give us what we need.