Archive for the ‘Attack’ Category

Ecstasy and the Cesspool

Posted: August 29, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Barcelona, Champions' League, Chelsea, Essien, Rants, Torres
Tags:

Pain is a horrible thing.

Moscow 2008. Pain.

Torres at some points last season. Pain.

Essien’s recurring injury problems. Pain.

But with pain arises progress.

We won the Champions League. We are Champions of Europe. Say it again to yourself, it’s true. Nobody can take that away from you. It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact.

Torres is trying harder than ever during games and seems to be on the brink of recapturing his old form.

Essien, well, it may not be as positive for him at the moment but I’d still love to think that he could regain match fitness and become a crucial part of the team regardless of how difficult that could turn out to be.

I think some of the players at Chelsea may have realised that if they work hard, it will pay off…eventually.

Maybe it was destiny that we won the Champions League but there is still a lot of preparation and training to endure to beat teams like Barcelona and Bayern Munich, in their own back garden.

I still struggle to grasp the fact that we are indeed Champions of Europe. Maybe one day it will hit me fully when I least expect it?

There are bigger things to come as well. Hazard, Marin, Oscar, Moses. Signings that heavily indicate attacking football. Parking the bus may become a thing of the past, even though it is extremely successful if utilised in the correct way.

Things may be going well now. 9 points out of 9 and slick football to name a few positives but they won’t always be this way, as many of you will already know.

What is my point in all this?

My point is this: there are folks out there who are quick to judge, quick to accuse, quick to point the finger, and quite frankly it’s disgusting. Are you a fan or a supporter?

It is important not to be drawn into constant negativity towards the club when things on the pitch may go a bit off the tracks. Because the chances are, things will pick up again (unless you’re Liverpool, maybe). Booing your own players will achieve nothing.
In general though, things are looking excellent, there is plenty to look forward to. Just be wary and watchful. Keep the faith.

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Another season, another new manager at Chelsea but just how much have things changed? It’s quite clear from who Chelsea have signed in the transfer market that the defensive style of football we saw at the end of last season, will not be seen again this season as Roberto Di Matteo tries to put together a Chelsea team that will play the ‘sexy football’ that owner Roman Abramovich has apparently always craved. What can we expect from this current Chelsea side though? Seeing as Di Matteo isn’t quite set on his strongest starting XI, here is who I believe should be in Chelsea’s starting XI;

Petr Cech: Untouchable. Heroic performances throughout last season’s Champions League campaign showed the world that he is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world. I’m pretty certain that Cech will be Chelsea’s no.1 for many seasons to come.

Cesar Azpilicueta: I can’t say I know much about ‘Dave’ as he has been nicknamed by some Chelsea supporters but he wouldn’t have been signed unless he was going to be the first choice right back at the club. Despite Ivanovic starting the season strongly, he defensively remains quite poor and struggles to move the ball quickly which will no doubt be a key figure in how Chelsea play this season. Let’s just hope Azpilicueta settles quickly like his countryman Juan Mata did.

David Luiz: Mr erratic himself. I like Luiz as a player and a person (judging from his twitter and instagram antics) but he really needs to chill out when he’s playing football. He will be needed to cover in behind John Terry a lot this season but at the moment his positioning is all over the place. I’d feel a lot more comfortable if he relaxed a little bit whilst on the pitch and was always read to slip in behind Terry when we’re being attacked down the left with pace.

John Terry: Whilst Terry certainly is our ‘captain, leader, legend’ it wouldn’t surprise me if Terry’s place in the starting XI came under serious question this season. Firstly, if he receives an 8 game ban like Suarez did and Gary Cahill and Luiz impress, then I think it would be hard for him to dislodge the ever improving Cahill. Whilst Cahill isn’t quite at Terry’s level yet, I think the majority of Chelsea fans have been surprised by just how good Cahill is; certainly looking a steal for the £7M we paid for him. Secondly, Terry has an unfortunate habit of ending up on his arse. His lack of pace is a serious hindrance in my opinion but fortunately for him, the defensive line shouldn’t be too high up, unlike under AVB. Terry is obviously still a great defender and he certainly is ‘Mr Chelsea’ but I think this season will be first where his place comes under serious question.

Ashley Cole: Easily still one of the best left backs who seem to be teaching Ryan Bertrand a thing or do. His place should be safe for this season but the ever improving Bertrand will no doubt provide him with great competition.

Mikel: The first of two defensive midfielders. Whilst still not being a ‘fan favourite’, most fans know that does a great job for the team, most of the time. He does sometimes have the odd game where he seems to hide and the play just passes him by but he’s improved massively under RDM. His performance against Newcastle was a great example of how he shields the defence in a similar way to how Makelele used to do it.

Frank Lampard: Big Frankie Lampard. Another Chelsea legend but how long can he remain a starter? Obviously Lampard can still a decent job in the midfield for Chelsea and despite having the nickname ‘Fat Frank’, he keeps himself in great shape. The signing of £23M Brazilian prodigy Oscar, will further put Lampard’s place under pressure. It’s easy to forget Raul Meireles as well. Meireles’ performance against Newcastle was very impressive, he kept the ball moving quickly which is I imagine what RDM wants from the player who plays in the position. I suspect there will be a lot of rotation in this position throughout the season; hopefully RDM selects the right player for the right game.

Eden Hazard: Three games in and it’s already looking like we’ve got an absolute star on our hands. Whether he will play on the left of the three of in the middle, I’m sure Hazard will destroy most defences in the league. He’s already suffered from some rough treatment but hopefully he’ll be able to cope with it and continue to dazzle us in the fashion he has so far.

Juan Mata: The little Spanish wizard. Whilst not being able to dribble past players like Hazard, Mata remains a key part to our team. He’s looked absolutely exhausted though for the past eight months and I struggle to understand how to club hasn’t found two weeks for him to have a proper break so he can refresh his batteries. No doubt Mata will provide multiple assists against this season, probably from the central position behind Torres and hopefully many assists for Torres himself.

Ramires: I’m not quite sure what Ramires’ best position is. Would it work if he played alongside Mikel? I don’t think so. He put in numerous good performances on the right of the attacking three last season so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him continue there again this season. He may lack that bit of magic in the final third but his energy and occasional dazzling runs are sure to trouble enemy defences. I’m sure Moses, Marin and Oscar will offer something else on the right but I think RDM will use Ramires there for the majority of games.

Fernando Torres: Is he back? He probably will never reach the same heights he reached at Liverpool but he’s certainly looking better. I still find it very frustrating watching him. He often seems to make pointless runs and when it looks like he should be making a near post run or trying to lose his man in the box, he stands still whilst Hazard or Cole runs towards the corner flag with the ball because they have no options. I’m glad he’s looking sharp and scoring goals but there’s still a lot more I feel he could bring to the team. When Luiz or Lampard pick up the ball, Torres should be on the shoulder of the last man, pointing to where he wants the ball, he might not be as fast as he once was but he could still outpace most defenders in the league. I’ve wrote thousands of words in the past discussing Torres and it’s hard not to go into too much detail so it’s best if I just leave it. There is the possibility that Torres gets injured this season and what do Chelsea do then? Is Sturridge good enough to lead the line? It certainly is an issue; I just hope Torres remains fit for the majority of the season.

This season is the first time in many years where Chelsea has a really strong bench. With people like Moses, Marin, Oscar, Sturridge, Meireles, Cahill, Bertrand and Ivanovic on the bench, Chelsea certainly won’t be short of options if they need someone to change the game or step into the side for an extended period of time if someone suffers an injury.

It’s hard to predict where Chelsea will finish this season. If Mata, Hazard and Torres all click then Chelsea’s attack will be arguably the best in the league which they will need as the defence hasn’t looked great, so I believe it will be a case of conceding two but scoring three for Chelsea this season. Will they win the league? Probably not but there will certainly be up there. Will they retain the Champions League? Again probably not but I’m sure they will put up a good fight to hold onto their crown.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @aidansweeney_

Wonderful Times To Be A Chelsea Supporter

Posted: August 27, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, Random, Strikers, Torres, Transfers, Youth

I don’t know about you but I am extremely excited at all these signings Chelsea have made recently. Marin, Hazard(s), Oscar, Moses and Azpilicueta. Not a bad bunch to sign in one transfer window.

With the added inclusion of Ryan Bertrand who seems to be enjoying more minutes in the first team as of late, a creative but potentially tired Mata (at the moment) and a reignited Torres, things at Chelsea seem to be taking a really good turn for the best. There are so many classy players to name that I would be here all day trying to describe them in the best manner possible.
Where to start then. Well, first of all I’m over the moon that Torres is showing everyone what damage he can really do with the right players behind him. Hazard has connected with Torres almost instantly and they seem like the making of a truly deadly duo.

There are murmers that Mata will be rested for a few games soon after playing a bit of football at Euro 2012 and the Olympics. This is no bad thing. I love Mata but this will give Oscar the perfect platform to slide into the side and, like Torres, show the world what a talent he is.
When Mata returns, there will be big competition for places in the team. Again, no bad thing. We’ve got players of a high calibre who will be battling it out amongst each other to be in the side; Ramires, Mata, Marin, Hazard, Sturridge, Torres, Oscar, Lampard, Mikel, Meireles, Essien, Romeu, Moses and, if they stick around, Malouda and Benayoun too. So much brilliance. All these players will be needed as there are a lot of trophies to be fought for in this season like the Club World Cup and the Supercup on Friday.

What do the new signings show? They indicate that either/both manager and owner are fully backing Torres as the main man to lead Chelsea’s front line. This apparent support from the hierarchy has brushed off on Fernando. Just have a look at his recent performances for evidence.

If all this isn’t enough we also have McEachran and Lukaku on loan in the meantime. Lukaku scored on his debut against Liverpool – nice way to bow into the West Bromwich Albion team. Middlesbrough fans are holding McEachran in high regard as he too impressed on his debut and was seen as an integral player for their win over Burnley recently.
I’m excited about our prospects this season. Are you?

Chelsea have predominantly used a 4-3-3 formation since Roman took the club over in 2003. It seems that is the preferred system of the board, something I would have my doubts about. I believe the board would be happy to see any system as long as it produced winning and stylish football. The truth is, football evolves and with that so does tactics and formations.
For a long time in English football nobody dared venture away from the tried and trusted 4-4-2. In the early noughties we saw a transition to 4-3-3 (or 4-5-1 depending on which team deployed it). We are now seeing an adoption to 4-2-3-1 and even recently to a back three, used by Barcelona and to our detriment, Napoli.
It seems there are innovators in the game and we all wait to see what they do first before a surge of followers replicate. In fact, Chelsea were innovators under Jose and our mind bending 4-3-3 was adopted by almost every team in the Premiership, if not Europe!
Now is the time for change again, and not just because the 4-3-3 is becoming obsolete (I actually don’t think a formation can become so) but because we simply do not possess the tools to adequately adopt the formation. 4-3-3 is very width dependant and we simply don’t have enough effective wingers, and we’re even going as far as playing 2 players out of position on the wings in Mata and Sturridge. Here’s what I propose:
I ultimately would like to see us adopt an exciting and wide 4-2-3-1 formation with Mata central behind our striker and two fast and direct wingers out wide. But, as I said, we don’t have that option right now so I think between now and the end of the season we should go with 4-diamond-2. It fits; we can play our strongest players and we can finally get more support up to out striker which has cut an isolated figure all season by adding another man up there to help him with the workload and a number 10 behind to create the chances.
Anyone that says Torres and Drogba can’t play together are completely wrong. It’s a media fuelled fantasy and I would love to see them prove the red-tops wrong. It also will give more opportunities to Sturridge to play centrally and maybe even an extra couple of games to Lukaku.
If you need convincing just look at the layout below and how our players fit at present:

GK

Cech

RB

Ivanovic

CB

Luiz

Or

Cahill

CB

JT

LB

Cole

DM

Essien

Or

Romeu/Mikel

CM

Lampard

CM

Ramires

AM

Mata

Or

Meireles

ST

Torres

Or

Sturridge

ST

Drogba

Or

Lukaku

You may say we lack width with this formation and you’d be correct but haven’t we done so all season anyway? At least with this formation we can properly protect our back four by consolidating midfield and we also see our best players play in their natural positions. I also believe Ashley Cole and Ivanovic offer a decent outlet out wide when we need that.
Bring on the summer, and bring on some wide players and we can switch to a 4-2-3-1. De Bruyne (hopefully) and Kakuta will be back, and we will no doubt see some additions covering those positions also.
What do you think?
Follow me on Twitter: @fattyfoulke

Another Backing For Torres

Posted: January 16, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, Rivals, Torres, Transfers

Harry Redknapp, I’m not a huge fan of him but his recent comments regarding Fernando Torres are worth sharing:

“I think Torres is starting to look the player that we all know he can be, the player he was at Liverpool – he is a top player no doubt about it.”

It’s encouraging for a manager from a different club, albeit a horrible rivalling club, to speak positively on Torres considering there are so many who jump on the slating bandwagon. For this, I am grateful to Redknapp for the first, and possibly the only, time…ever.

When we think Spurs, we now think about Modric moving to Chelsea. A saga that really should have finished a while ago. There were rumours doing the rounds that a potential Modric-Torres swap deal was in the balance but Redknapp put that false information to bed by saying:

“There is no way [Torres] is coming to Tottenham and no swap deal is in the offing for Luka Modric, I think Chelsea will get the best out of him [Torres].”

That’s that then. Surely the Modric rumours will cease from here on in?

@GaryCRobertson

Not Going With The Flo

Posted: January 16, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, Rumours, Transfers

Someone’s getting fed up of not starting games under Villas-Boas and has used the media as his tool to try and change the situation. Yes, it’s Florent Malouda.

“I am the kind of player who needs to play week in, week out and the manager knows that.”

Malouda has started only 4 Premier League games this season – it’s little wonder he’s complaining. Juan Mata has been preferred in the left midfield/wing position as Villas-Boas implements his own style on Chelsea.

Malouda also says:

“I am expecting to start more games because that’s my standard and it’s what I’ve been doing for the last two seasons.”

Hmmm, if that’s what he wants then I think there is a high chance Florent will not be a Chelsea player by this time next year. If that were the case and he were to leave, there would be significant interest from clubs all around the globe.

For example, Palmeiras, who are managed by former Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari (shudder) could be interested along with several French clubs. I also read recently that Stoke were to bid £7m for him which I doubt.

What’s really unfortunate is how he was such a key player for us in the last few seasons and then all of a sudden he’s been shunned to the bench and Mata has arrived. Planning for the future is most definitely in the present for Villas-Boas.

@GaryCRobertson

Lukaku Ponders Summer Loan Move

Posted: January 16, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, loan, Rumours, Transfers, Youth

Romelu Lukaku is keen to get more playing time with Chelsea and has revealed he would be open to a loan move if the opportunity arose to improve his long terms chances in the first team.

“If my situation at Chelsea does not evolve between now and the end of the season, it may be better to be loaned out for a season.”

The only problem is that because Lukaku has already played for two clubs this season, he would not be able to join another club on loan until the summer transfer window arrives. So, he is keen to plan ahead, something I think is very admirable – it’s clear he wants to succeed:

“A loan this season is not possible, as I have already played for two different clubs (but) if this situation endures, it might be better to play for another club for a year and then come back.”

Lukaku has featured only seven times for Chelsea since his move from Anderlecht but hopefully he will get some chances while Drogba and Kalou are on duty with the Ivory Coast at the AFCON. Fingers crossed.

@GaryCRobertson

Don’t brand Fernando a flop just yet

Posted: January 14, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, Guest, Strikers, Torres

Here at Chelsea Headache, we are always glad to host articles written by football fans (preferably of Chelsea origins) and today, Aidan Sweeney is delving into the subject of a certain Fernando Torres.

____________________

Four goals and seven assists in fourteen starts and 8 substitute appearances is hardly what Chelsea fans were expecting from Fernando Torres this season. However, is Torres solely to blame for the current problems that surround the fifty million pound man? I think not. Despite having been already labelled as the ‘most expensive flop’ ever by the majority, I still believe there is time for Torres to turn it around.

It’s been nearly a year since his move to Chelsea and Fernando Torres has had to deal with numerous issues since his move. His wife gave birth to his second child only a month before he switched clubs, hardly something which would help a player settle down easy at a new club. He effectively lived in a hotel away from his wife and children for the first few months of his time at Chelsea which can’t have helped him mentally. There was a new level of pressure on the man himself. Whilst there had always been a high level of interest in Fernando’s performances, it was nothing compared to what he faced at Chelsea. Every time he played and didn’t score (which was unfortunately most of the time), it was major news across Twitter and the following days back pages. Such level of interest had to be expected though seeing as his transfer didn’t just make the back pages of newspapers, it also made the majority of front pages the following day. All of these were off the pitch issues, it was far worse on the pitch.There wasn’t a single player at Chelsea who’s vision and passing ability was as good as Steven Gerrard’s or Xabi Alonso’s, players who Torres thrived off at Liverpool. Dozens of Torres’ goals at Liverpool were assisted by defence splitting, world class passes from Alonso or Gerrard, Torres hasn’t had that level of service at Chelsea. There’s no denying Lampard can pick the odd pass out and Mata has the ability to slip a ball through a few players to Torres but he still isn’t being allowed to sit on the last man and run in behind which is how he loves to play. Another issue was just how slow Chelsea played. Players like Anelka, Mikel and Lampard played at such a slow pace it didn’t help Torres or the team. Anelka has thankfully moved on whilst Mikel has hardly kicked a ball the past few months which is good news but if André Villas-Boas really wants to implement fast, flowing football at Stamford Bridge then he needs to remove Lampard from the equation. One noticeable difference between how Torres played at Liverpool and how he has played during his time at Chelsea so far has been how often he drifts out wide. At Liverpool Torres didn’t have to go and seek the ball, he didn’t have to drift out wide to try and create space. He spent the majority of his time sitting on the last man, patiently waiting for Gerrard or Alonso to find him with that killer ball. Instead we’ve seen Fernando coming deep and in fact becoming more of a number ten. The statistics speak for themselves, he has nearly double the amount of assists than he has goals and that isn’t what Mr Abramovich paid fifty million pounds for.

What continues to frustrate me week in week out is seeing Juan Mata shifted out on the left wing when he clearly is not a left winger. He is the only player in the current Chelsea team who I believe has got the ability and the vision to continuously find Torres’ runs; so in my opinion, Mata has to play centrally. Probably the closest we’ve ever came to seeing the best of Fernando Torres at Chelsea was away at Old Trafford and it was obvious to see why he thrived during the second half of that game. United played with a high defensive line, Torres sat on the last man and Mata saw enough of the ball to play Torres in on goal numerous times. Whilst that game will always be remembered for the way Torres put the ball past David De Gea’s left hand post, I saw enough in the game to firmly believe it can work out for Torres at Chelsea. There is no denying that for the majority of that second half, it was Torres back to his world class best.

It is clear that things have got to change at Chelsea and there is no quick or cheap solution. If I was André Villas-Boas then I would address the following issues: Mata has to play centrally behind Torres. As I’ve said above he is the only player good enough to continuously play those killer balls for Torres. It might not leave Lampard very happy but a midfield of Mata, Ramires and Romeu is the future for Chelsea and hopefully it will be the present midfield very soon. A left winger has to be signed. I will always have fond memories of Florent Malouda, especially the day he walked through Man United’s defence at Old Trafford to set Joe Cole up and it’s always sad to see players who you once admired slowly decline but with Malouda it’s been more than a slow decline. It’s hard to believe he’s the same player and the sooner he leaves Chelsea the better. A left winger who will actually stick to the wing will open more space in the middle so it isn’t as congested as it is at the moment, hopefully meaning Torres won’t have to drift out to the wings to find space which in turn should open up little pockets of space for Mata. Torres has to be given a run of games. With the ever declining Didier Drogba away at the African Cup of Nations, Fernando should get a run in the team over the following month but it won’t benefit Chelsea at all if Torres is benched again as soon as Drogba comes back because Torres brings a lot more to Chelsea’s play than Drogba. Torres also has to look at himself. Surely he can’t be happy with everyone labelling him a flop? We’ve seen it very rarely at Chelsea but he has to find that hunger within himself to go out there and be that world class player he knows he can be. He’s free of the injuries which haunted his time at Liverpool, he has to see that as a positive and really seize the chance he has been presented with through Drogba being away.

So whilst the majority of you continue to laugh every time Torres plays and doesn’t score, remember he has four and a half years left on his contract and at only twenty seven, he’s got arguably his peak physical years ahead of him. I believe it’s clear to see though that changes have to be made at Chelsea and until they are, we can all expect Torres to continue to struggle. Don’t brand Fernando a flop just yet though, give him and AVB time to implement changes and I’m sure we’ll see Fernando Torres back to his best once again.

For more Football/Chelsea/Torres related debate, follow me on twitter: @aidansweeney93

I have put together two lists for the Top 10 Chelsea attackers in Premier League games. The first is only my opinion based on how I thought they performed for the blues. The second list is purely stats based, by looking at a minutes played to goals ratio. Let’s see how the two lists compare and if you agree with my list.

My Top 10 Attackers
10.   John Spencer (103 games, 36 goals)
9.      Nicolas Anelka (124, 38 goals)
8.      Mark Hughes (95 games, 25 goals)
7.      Tore Andre Flo (112 games, 34 goals)
6.      Eidur Gudjohnsen (186 games, 54 goals)
5.      Hernan Crespo (49 games, 20 goals)
4.      Gianluca Vialli (58 games, 21 goals)
3.      Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (136 games, 69 goals)
2.      Didier Drogba (208 games, 96 goals)
1.      Gianfranco Zola (229 games, 59 goals)

One player who narrowly missed out was George Weah, who I wish had stayed for a longer period. In a few years I hope to be able to add Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge to this list.

Top 10 Attackers (based on goals per minute)
10.    Gianluca Vialli (199 minutes)
9.      Mark Stein (197 minutes)
8.      John Spencer (190 minutes)
7.      Mateja Kezman (187 minutes)
6.      Tore Andre Flo (183 minutes)
5.      Mikael Forssell (162 minutes)
4.      Didier Drogba (162 minutes)
3.      Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (150 minutes)
2.      Daniel Sturridge (149 minutes)
1.      Hernan Crespo (141 minutes)

So, there you have it. Hernan Crespo is the most effective attacker Chelsea have had in the Premier League in terms of minutes per goal. There are four players in this list who did not make my personal selection; Mark Stein, Mateja Kezman, Mikael Forssell and Daniel Sturridge. Carlton Cole is next line with a goal every 200 minutes, just one minute behind Vialli.

You will not be surprised to see that Chris Sutton did not appear in either list. In fact, he came last in the stats list with a goal every 1,845 minutes. Just behind him is Robert Fleck (994 minutes).

So, do you agree with my list of attackers? Who would be in your top 10? Please state them in the comments box below.

If you liked this then please follow me on Twitter: @ChelseaChadder

The fourth and final part of my Chelsea squad assessment will see me look at the state of our attack and then briefly summarise the entire squad. You can see all other assessments here:

Goalkeeper

Defence

Midfield

Didier Drogba:

Still our main man. He suffered with malaria throughout last season and as a result his goal tally was lower than usual. However, he came back strongly towards the end of last season and when the chips were down, not to mention a £50m striker in his position, he proved to everyone he is still number one. No defender wants to play against him; he is strong, powerful, energetic and technically gifted. Drogba started his top flight playing days relatively late at 23 years old and I feel as a result has longer left in him than people think. He is the only player in the squad who can take a set piece, but he’s the one player who we want on the end of them! Can he be cloned?

Rating: 8.5/10

Fernando Torres:

This is difficult to assess. Towards the end of last season I lost faith in him. He was feeling sorry for himself and it looked like his effort was waning. However, he has looked sharper this pre-season, albeit without a goal. The summer rest should do him no harm and we have to remember how good he was. I don’t buy the ‘he got no service’ argument – yesterday’s article would claim the contrary. What I do believe is that he maybe isn’t 100% suited to our current style and is taking time to adjust. Am I confident he will fire them in this season? No, but I am hopeful. I think a marquee signing this summer might take some pressure away from him also. He seems to be making the right runs again but is just let down slightly by a mixture of his touch and luck – which I’m not worried about because both will improve with games. He needs two goals in two games consecutively and he will be a 9/10 again.

Rating: 6/10

Nicolas Anelka:

A genius on the pitch. Nico is as graceful as a swan when he is on the ball. He rarely loses possession and if he is given a chance he is likely to find the net. He gets a hard time for dropping deep and slowing the game down, which I agree he does do. However, let’s remember he is a striker – not a winger, he never will be either. If we stuck Nico up front all season he will score close to 30 goals – put him on the wing and he won’t be entirely natural there and as a result the team concedes it’s shape and an outlet on the right. Many people have been calling for his exit this summer but unless he is going to be replaced with a world class winger I think those calls should fall on deaf ears. He is an experienced and proven goalscorer who is helping the team out by playing out of position. World class centre forward but unfortunately I’m rating him as a stop-gap winger.

Rating: 6.5/10

Salomon Kalou:

And we thought Mikel was an enigma?! Sala, Sala, Sala – what can I say that hasn’t already been said. Yes he’s frustrating, yes he lacks decision making nous, yes he loses the ball a lot… now I’ve finished picking his bad points; let’s see what he has to offer Chelsea. Goals, important goals at that, dribbling ability (about the only squad member with that talent right now), speed, width and the right attitude. While he’ll never be a world beater, he offers our team good depth and cover. He scored 10 league goals from the wing last season – that is unlikely to be beaten by a back-up winger in any league. Another one who people want out, and for the aforementioned reasons, I disagree.

Rating: 6.5/10

Florent Malouda:

All I can say is let’s hope it stays sunny all season because Flo seems to hibernate during the winter months. He was the best player in the Premiership from August to October and again one of the best from April through May. Not sure where he was from November to March, although that can be said of a lot of Chelsea players last season. He was our top scorer last season in the league with 13 goals and with the right shape he will flourish once again. A game changing player on his day – he just needs more days.

Rating: 7.5/10

Daniel Sturridge:

Well hasn’t this boy got a thing or two to prove, and isn’t he doing just that. Along with Yossi he has been our shining light this pre-season so far. He’s young, home grown, fast, a natural goalscorer and most of all he’s hungry. Come on AVB, trust him! He is showing such determination to get into the Chelsea side and I know this is slightly contradicting what I said about Anelka, but play Studge on the right wing. I know he’s a natural centre forward but he shows plenty of ability to play the wing too. Let him build up a year or two’s experience of playing regularly there before he’s ready to take up the central role. He can also play centrally from time to time this season in certain games I’m sure. If given the opportunity, he’s the one to watch this season.

Rating: 7/10

Overall rating of Attacking Positions: 7/10

Again I must stress that this rating is a CURRENT rating. 7/10 may seem harsh but it has potential to be a 9/10 by Christmas if Torres re-finds his form and Sturridge is trusted. It will be interesting to see what happens formation-wise, will it be Drogba or Torres, or even both? AVB has some very difficult decisions to make over the next few weeks but I trust they will be the right ones. Overall, I’m very happy not only with the striking options we have but with the squad overall.

I don’t think we NEED to sign anyone to win the league next season, although if I was pushed it would be a winger who can dribble and cross. Sanchez is gone, Neymar is gone – let’s make a move for Afellay or Mata. If the right players aren’t available then we shouldn’t buy the wrong ones who will hinder the chances of our own young stars.

My first choice Chelsea XI (as of 28/7/2011):

I would involve Benayoun and Torres a lot also. This team is in terms of form and this can obviously change. For those of you panicking, look at what we have in reserve:

Hilario, Bosingwa, Ferriera, Bertrand, Van Aanholt, Mikel, Essien, Benayoun, Kalou, Anelka, Torres (not forgetting the imminent arrival of Romeu and I believe one BIG signing).

I hope that any worriers may be happier having seen the talent at our disposal. We have every position heavily covered and we’re being marshalled by, what I think, is going to be the best tactician on the planet (if he isn’t already). So chins up, buckle in and enjoy the ride this season. In Andre we trust. KTBFFH!

Agree/Disagree? Please comment below or let me know @fattyfoulke

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Article by Derek O’Rourke

Follow me on Twitter: @fattyfoulke