Chelsea Don't Need A New Striker

Jose Mourinho might be unhappy with the low number of goals from his strikers, but Nick Miller argues that he doesn't have to worry, because the goals are still coming...

Last Updated: 12/12/13 at 08:17 Post Comment

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It's fair to say that Chelsea's rotating cast of strikers haven't exactly had a barnstorming season. Fernando Torres has one goal from seven starts, Demba Ba one from two and Samuel Eto'o two from five. Such is the paucity of options up front that Jose Mourinho of course elected to choose none of them for the game against Manchester United.

Their lack of goals from the very top of their team has caused much consternation, with weekly hand-wringing sessions on Match of the Day and so forth, and the venerable Robbie Savage noting last week: "They're not scoring goals."

In fact, Chelsea have scored as many goals as Arsenal this season. Only Liverpool and Manchester City have scored more. They have 14 in their last five matches.

Conversely, they have already let in more in their 15 games this term than in the whole of Jose Mourinho's first season in charge. Petr Cech has only kept four clean sheets, three against teams with terrible attacks and the other in that United game. In their last two games they have allowed Stoke and Sunderland to find the net three times, teams who had previously scored 12 from 14 and eight from 13 games respectively.

Because their strikers are not scoring, there does seem to be a sense that the 'business end' of the pitch is where Chelsea's problems lie. Of course, the decision to loan out Romelu Lukaku does look more and more foolish with every goal the big Belgian scores, but oddly he might be making more of a contribution to Chelsea by taking points off their title rivals with Everton, rather than playing the dozen or so games he would have done had he stayed at Stamford Bridge.

However, there is actually no need for them to add another striker - they're doing okay for goals because they're coming from different places. Frank Lampard has four, Oscar has five, Eden Hazard has six, Andre Schurrle three from six starts. And that's before one considers that Juan Mata has been in and out of the team and hasn't found his best form.

Of course, as Mourinho recognised this week, a more clinical striker would be lovely, but they can still win the title - in this most unpredictable of seasons more than most - without one forward scoring 20 goals. In fact, they did just that in Mourinho's first season, when they won the title with their top scorer finding the net 13 times, and that was Lampard. They still managed to score 72 goals in total (only Manchester United got more), and succeeded thanks to that miserly defence and by sharing the goals around.

Mourinho said after the defeat to Stoke that he wanted more from his forwards, but also recognised: "Of course we want the best possible results but I am not waiting for players, I am not asking for players. This is a period for the club and this is a period of my team where we have to try and improve the players we have and try to build a future."

But he doesn't have to worry - as long as the goals are coming from somewhere, it doesn't really matter. With 30 goals from 15 games so far, it suggests that Chelsea are on course to score around 76 over the season, which will be enough if they tighten that defence up a little. It's just that the goals won't all come from one player.

If you'll pardon me for being the 2,475th person to reference 'Moneyball' (stick with me), when Billy Beane lost stars Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon, he dispelled the logic that the Oakland Athletics needed to directly replace those players - they just had to replace their 'production'. Just as Chelsea don't need one striker to score 20 league goals, they just need the strikers they have get something approaching that number, then they will be fine.

Really, it's healthier for Chelsea to share their goalscoring burden around. Better that than be reliant on one or two strikers - how would Liverpool manage, for example, if Luis Suarez either gets injured or does something stupid again? Tottenham's problem for much of this season isn't just that Roberto Soldado isn't scoring any goals, it's that the rest of the team is pretty goal-shy too.

Chelsea have problems, that is clear, but their non-scoring forward line is far from the worst of them.

Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

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