Striker Curse At The Bridge? No More!!
Football is an ever evolving sport, but there are certain basics that even evolution cannot replace and one of them being the need for a pure ’20+ goals a season’ striker.
Last season saw the title make its way back to Stamford Bridge after quite a long hiatus by their high standards. It was also the debut season of a certain Brazilian-born Spanish international beast by the name of Diego Costa and what an impact he had on the side. In purely statistical terms, he scored 20 goals in just 26 appearances for the team in a season where he missed some games towards the end due to injury.
This draws us towards an important topic and that is the sad state of affairs in the striking department in the post-Drogba era of the club. Yes, Drogba. The Ivorian legend joined Chelsea in the summer of 2004 and has been scoring goals at will ever since but Chelsea have had a real tough time finding him a strike partner and eventually replacing him. We have a look at the numerous players in that period who arrived at the Bridge with huge expectations and promises but left with the sour taste of failure.
In the summer, Roman Abramovich rejuvenated the entire Chelsea line up the young Serb from PSV Eindhoven for a sum of 5.3 million pounds. He managed to score just seven goals in his 40 odd appearances for the club leaving the manager with no option but to part with his services. Kezman finally joined Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2005. For striker whose statistics in the Dutch league made everyone turn and take notice Kezman can be branded a flop signing.
Any football fanatic from the late 90s to the early 2000s would vouch for Shevchenko and his credentials. His predatory skills and sheer pace wrecked havoc in many a defence during his time at Dinamo Kiev and later AC Milan. An Italian Serie A winner and Champions’ League winner with 100+ goals to his name during his time in Italy Shevchenko caused a furore in England when his 30.8 million pound deal was announced.
The very idea of him pairing with Drogba gave many English defenders nightmares but what looked perfect on paper eventually failed to materialise. He managed just nine goals during his time at the Bridge and even made a goalless loan move back to Milan before eventually returning to his native club Dinamo Kiev.
El Nino as he is affectionately called set the transfer market on fire with his 50 million pound move to Chelsea in 2011. On the back of a poor show at the World Cup and a sour relationship with his old club, Torres was supposed to be that vital cog in the Chelsea armoury. Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly go as per plan. His open miss against United summed up his time at Chelsea.
Often ridiculed and mocked yet loved by the Chelsea faithful Torres never looked like the same Spaniard who brought great defenders to their knees. His tumultuous time at Chelsea ended with a loan move to Milan and then back home to his beloved Atletico Madrid. He managed a total of 20 goals during his time in London.
After a litigation ridden transfer from Manchester City, Daniel Sturridge spent four seasons at the club. His pace and quick feet made him a threat but he never quite managed to cement his place in the starting XI. He also had a successful loan spell at Bolton Wanderers during his tenure at Chelsea. However, his growth and stability in the regular first team remained a question mark mostly because of Chelsea’s revolving managers.
The manager who perhaps made the best use of his talent and potential was Andres Villas-Boas who used him well wide on the pitch. An unfortunate injury ruled him out for the rest of the season and when Sturridge returned the new manager gave him the blind eye. He eventually moved to Liverpool for 12 million pounds.
Probably the best Chelsea player to have never played in the Blue shirt, Romelu Lukaku was straight out of Drogba’s mould. He was strong, quick, good in the air and had phenomenal shooting prowess but what could again be considered poor handling of the player Lukaku performed brilliantly for West Bromwich Albion and then Everton on loan. A Chelsea set up which was adamant to make Torres regain his lost form continued to ignore Lukaku in spite of his 32 goals in 2 seasons on loan. Finally, we sold the Belgian beast to Everton for a handsome 28 million pounds.
Some transfers have an idea behind them and some are plain bizarre. Samuel Eto’s move to Chelsea from Anzhi Makhachkala on a one-year deal was one of such transfers. Given his age and existing big money deal with the Russian side Chelsea’s motive was never quite clear. He managed nine goals for the club including a memorable hat-trick against Manchester United after which the Cameroonian moved to Everton on another loan deal.
Chelsea fans must be having a sigh of relief to have found the right man in Diego Costa. And now, with Falcao joining him upfront (if things go well) in the Blues’ lineup, we can hope for a goal fest from the ‘Duo’. Falcao and Costa have had an amazing spell at the Spanish Capital in 2012-2013 season.
The duo scored a total of 54 goals in Atletico’s successful campaign winning the Copa del Rey and UEFA Super Cup. They also finished third in the Spanish League, after a drought of 12 long years. So yes, if the duo shine similarly in the Premier League, we can easily defend out title. I hope, this ends the ‘Striker Curse’ at the Bridge.
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Edited By: Siddharth Dutta
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