Although Chelsea had a fantastic end to the season, winning both the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League behind new manager Roberto di Matteo, they still only managed a 6th place finish in the EPL table and will have to recover quickly from the departure of Didier Drogba. For a team that has been so used to competing at the top of the Premier League table, the result was a shock even if it was alleviated by the success in other competitions.
The chief reason for concern with Chelsea is that the English Premier League table holds no lies. After 38 games, playing every other team in the league both home and away, each team has had countless opportunities to prove themselves, so finishing behind the likes of Tottenham and Newcastle will sting for Chelsea fans. Even when their manager was fired and Di Matteo took over, the team still struggled in the league.
Now that Didier Drogba is gone, they could struggle even more. Drogba was the man who scored the equalizing goal in the 88th minute of the Champions League final, and he was the one who scored the winning penalty kick. He also scored the winner in the FA Cup final and a crucial goal against Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals. When Chelsea needed a lift, he was the one who could power through the opposition and get that all-important goal.
With his departure, the question arises as to who fills the void. Fernando Torres has looked shaky and lacking of confidence since his arrival. He has scored the occasional goal when matches are already won, but he has rarely scored in tense situations or matches. Daniel Sturridge has lots of potential, and had a decent season last year, but at 22 is he ready to take over Drogba’s role? Sturridge also had misery in the Olympics, as he missed the vital penalty kick and had a rough match overall against South Korea. His confidence may also be lacking as a result. Perhaps Romelu Lukaku, a 19-year-old Belgian who physically looks and plays just like a young Drogba, can fill the void. But he is quite young too and has yet to score a Premier League goal.
Yes Chelsea did sign Eden Hazard this summer and have an incredible squad featuring Juan Mata, Frank Lampard, John Terry, and Ramires. But they do lack a striker at the moment and scoring goals is the most challenging and important aspect of the sport. Fernando Torres really needs to step up to the plate and rekindle the form that we all loved him for at Liverpool, or else the defending Champions League winners could slump to a mediocre season.