Bridge Banter: There's still something very wrong with Chelsea up front
Let’s not be too mean. Chelsea finished top of their Champions League group after the 1-0 defeat of Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
But it looked unconvincing.
When the Blues are drawn from Uefa’s well-upholstered hat on Monday in Switzerland, the opponents – either Galatasaray, Olympiakos, Zenit St Petersburg, AC Milan or Bayer Leverkusen – will not dissolve in a puddle of fear.
There’s still something wrong, very wrong, up front.
Although Demba Ba was finally credited with the single goal in midweek, It was a scrambled effort which initially went down as an own goal by the luckless Daniel Georgievski, who had managed an own goal in the Blues’ win in Bucharest in October.
Had the latest own goal stood, it would have made Georgievski Chelsea’s joint top Champions League goal scorer!
Officially awarding the strike to Ba means that the three forwards at the Bridge – Ba, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o – have scored two goals apiece in the group stage.
Jose Mourinho is angry and frustrated about his strikers’ form and baffled about how to correct it.
His press conferences are now characterised by a mix of gallows humour, despair and bewilderment.
Will Saturday’s visit of Crystal Palace to the Bridge bring any relief? Tellingly, Petr Cech was dropped on Wednesday in favour of 41-year-old Mark Schwarzer, who kept a clean sheet and acquitted himself well.
If Jose was to give Schwarzer a few more games between the sticks during December’s busy fixture list, it would send a powerful message to Cech that he cannot assume he will be No1 forever after a string of indifferent performances.
Ashley Cole was OK, but rusty, on Wednesday, having been frozen out for weeks, while David Luiz appeared safe and solid.
Chelsea failed to kill this game off against the bottom team in the group. That’s concerning.
Palace will aim to make life just as awkward.
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