With the start of the season looming, the question of who to play at the front of the Chelsea first team rears its ugly head once again. Should it be £50 million pound marquee signing Torres, who has failed to deliver time and time again since his big money move from Merseyside? Or should the ever faithful and always a threat Drogba lead the line? More to the point, what system will Andres Villas Boas employ – leading to the question of just how much football the forwards in the Chelsea squad will get this coming season.
AVB seems to prefer the trusty 4-3-3 formation that has bought so much success to both the manager himself and also at the Bridge in recent seasons, with a big striker up top and two supporting players on either side. This leaves places open for Kalou, Anelka and Malouda to support the main man up front. It seems doubtful that Torres and Drogba can play together, with this tried and tested option yielding little in the way of either goals or results last term, thus the choice between them has to be made.
In the pre-Torres era, the option of Drogba supported by Anelka and Malouda seemed to be the preferred and most successful one in big games, with Kalou being used as a sub for the majority of the time. Post Torres, Ancelotti tried to bed Torres into the team both as the single striker in a 4-3-3 and as part of two up top with both Drogba and Anelka. In fact, every combination possible to accommodate the Spaniard was made, with a Shevchenko esque situation occurring to the point where it became embarrassingly obvious to all without a guide dog that Torres was being played in accordance with Abramovich’s wishes not his form or ability.
AVB would insist that the team selection belongs to him and no other, with varied options and combinations being tried out pre-season, where thus far Torres has scored a single goal – interestingly when both Drogba and Anelka were on the field too. Sturridge and Drogba have impressed pre-season, with the former looking like he can really stake a claim to being worthy of a place in the first team. Drogba, as always, performed when it counted and looks strong and willing to stay at the Bridge and fight for his place come the 13th of August, defying many doubters who felt the arrival of AVB spelled the end for the big Ivorian. Yet with no marque summer signings – Falcon was a much expected purchase – both Drogba and Chelsea are in a marriage of convenience for the foreseeable future, and both are willing to make it a fruitful one, with Drogba aiming to see out his career at Chelsea.
It is entirely possible that Torres will come into his own during his second season at the club, with the age old saying of form being temporary but class being permanent being something that Torres will be hoping is true in his case. He has proven that he can score goals in the Premier League with Liverpool and there is no reason why, should he stay injury free he cannot replicate this for Chelsea, where everyone is desperate to see him succeed. Should this be the case, AVB will have the headache that all managers want to have, with more than a handful of world class forwards to select from.