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21 June 2009

Chelsea squad review 08/09: Part III - the forwards

It’s pretty much clear where Chelsea’s weakness – if it can be called that – lies: in attack. After parts one and two of bridgeviews’ squad review, now it’s the turn of Drogba et al to come under the spotlight.

With remarkable consistency, Chelsea scored 64, 65 and 68 in the 06/07, 07/08 and 08/07 seasons respectively. In those three seasons Chelsea scored first 19, then 15, and then 9 goals less than the leading goal scorers. So, in terms of putting the ball in the net, it looks like we’re improving. But are we, and from what base?

Aside from the 05/06 season, when Chelsea and Arsenal both scored 72, the club haven’t been Premier League top scorers in any of the last five years. Liverpool have now outscored Chelsea for two consecutive seasons (who would have thought it?).

To compound a general lack of goals over the past three seasons (and often against the most conservative teams), Chelsea have been overly dependent on the midfield for goals. In 06/07 Drogba and Shevchenko managed 24 (38%) and the next season they contributed even less, 13 (20%). Anelka and Drogba scored 24 (35%) in 08/09. Compare that return to the 01/02 season when Hasselbaink and Gudjohnsen scored a total of 37 league goals, 56% of Chelsea’s 66. Very good players both, but consider their comparatively meagre combined transfer fee of £19m to prices paid for Drogba, Anelka and Shevchenko…

It’s far from a new problem for Chelsea, but despite trying a number of options over the past couple of seasons the club has yet to hit upon the right combination up front, keep them fit when most needed or support them adequately with forwards playing off the wings. It’s been said on this blog before, but renewing our options in that area must be the priority for this summer if we are to continue to compete.

A quick look at each of the players in turn:

Drogba – there’s a little of the angel and the demon in our Didier, and we’ve seen a little of each this season. On form he’s the world’s most powerful lone striker. When not on form however, it’s hard to overlook his petulance, oft-awful first touch and inconsistency in front of goal. Regardless of all that he is probably (along with Lampard and Terry) Chelsea’s most important player. The team is built round him: he moves on, and Chelsea will need to rip up the rulebook and start again. Scored less goals in 08/09 than we might have the right to expect, but played a major part in Chelsea’s revival in the closing months of the season.

Anelka – One of the more successful big-money striker signings of recent years, Anelka ended 08/09 as Chelsea’s first golden boot winner since Hasselbaink. Technically an excellent player, his 19 league goals is an impressive return, especially having been played out wide for large parts of the season. Whilst an important part of the squad and a player that offers something genuinely different from Drogba, some question marks do remain however. Can he play in as part of a front two with Drogba? Does he spend enough of his time in the box? Does he score enough against top opposition?

Time for Kalou to leave Kalou – I’ve always admired Salomon and defended him in debates with other fans. He chips in with a good number of goals and his attitude – both in defence and attack – is unquestionable. But my opinion is changing. Up until now he has been a good squad player that we hoped had the potential to develop into something more exciting. Unfortunately, he simply hasn’t improved enough over the last couple of seasons, and is still guilty of occasional profligacy in possession and in front of goal. His relative youth alone shouldn’t make him invulnerable and, as one of the few players in the squad who could command a £10m+ transfer fee, I’d consider cashing in to help fund a replacement.

Will be most intrigued to see – what happens with Pizarro and Shevchenko. Surely Pizarro doesn’t have it in him to return to England and be a success, but after such a strong season in Germany could Chelsea get a reasonable transfer fee for him? And where will Sheva end up? Last we heard even French clubs were turning him down. How the mighty have fallen.

Biggest disappointment
– Ben Sahar’s recent transfer to Espanyol. Another youth prospect bites the dust.

Look out for
– Di Santo. We didn’t get to see too much of our fuzzy-haired youngster this season, but he did look confident, fast and good in the air. Has scored plenty in the reserves too. Fingers crossed he’s good enough to get more time next season. 

These are my views – but what do you think? Post a comment.


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Keep Drogba
Keep Anelka
Keep DiSanto
Sell Pizarro
Sell Sheva
Keep/Loan Kalou
Get Aguero
No to Tevez.

:) hehehe

Get Zhirkov as well

Zhirkov, he's midfield player right? I don't think we need more midfielders. Only if he's better than what we already have, then, sell some more, and get him as well.

Hmm, I believe that's all for the midfield/forward.

How about the back?
Johnson? or keep Bosingwa?

"Very good players both, but consider their comparatively meagre combined transfer fee of £19m to prices paid for Drogba, Anelka and Shevchenko…"

You say comparatively meagre, but JFH was a British record fee at the time. I seem to remember that we paid 15,000,001 in order to beat the record of 15,000,000

Fadzil - I personally haven't seen much of Zhirkov play, but from what little I have seen and read I wouldn't be so concerned. He's an attacking left winger who can apparently also slot in at left back. Whether it's on the left side that we need reinforcements is another matter...

Oliver - thanks for your comment! A good point. At the time far from meagre (and actually £15 is hardly meagre now). I suppose I was just trying to make a comparison that showed it is possible to create a striking partnership that contributes more goals.

Is it true Johnson signed for Liverpool?
Pato says: "I'm happy at Milan"
Atl. Madrid says: "Kun Aguero is not for sale"

Ribery would probably head to R. Madrid...

Who's left on the list?
Can Guiseppe Rossi be considered?


It is true that Johnson's signed for Liverpool, yes. Think it will become formal on 1st July.

We can't afford to worry too much about all these quotes. I think in general players tend to say those 'loyal' statements before a move regardless, and clubs often say players aren't for sale to make sure the asking price stays high. We're going to have to sit the summer out and wait to see what happens. I'm desperately hoping for 1-2 creative players to join the club...

re. Rossi - I'm not sure mate. Yes, he's scored lots of goals at Villereal, but his stints at Utd and Newcastle make me think that perhaps he's not up to it.


You have a very good point there. Last year, C. Ronaldo also made the same statement, and eventually leave Man U this season and reveals that he has the intention (of leaving) throughout the season. :)

I mention about Rossi because he's Italian, and Chelsea had a very good time with Italians before... just a thought...

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