Andre Villas-Boas’ striking dilemma

A new era at Stamford Bridge is about to begin under the management of Andre Villas-Boas and an early dilemma he will have to solve is which strikers to choose in his favoured 4-3-3 formation. He has the prospect of picking three players from Torres, Drogba, Anelka, Kalou, Yossi Benayoun, Gael Kakuta and Daniel Strurridge. This fierce competition for places in attack should be a positive thing throughout the season for the Blues, giving the side flexibility to adjust when required. However it is also likely to create problems with too many big-players on the fringes of the first team.

Andre Villas-Boas has decided to keep the formation that has been successful at Stamford Bridge in recent seasons and was successfully employed by him during his debut year at Porto where he won the quadruple. He likes to use three forwards and has suggested that Sturridge and Anelka could play in the channels with Torres down the middle which has been the case in a few of the pre-season games.

Drogba’s and Anelka’s performance’s have been increasingly under the spotlight since Chelsea and Abramovich splashed out £50 million to sign Fernado Torres from Liverpool and both the two forwards need to prove to new boss Andre Villas-Boas that they are worthy of a starting berth. If they fail to do this, it is possible that neither striker will be at the club in a year’s time.

Torres, who scored 81 goals in just 126 starts at Liverpool, has always struggled playing off other strikers and has always looked a better player when playing upfront on his own. His record for Spain where plays alongside David Villa is not as impressive as his club form and shows that he is better on his own. With one goal in 18 games in the last four months of last season, Torres will need to start scoring this year or he could be faced with missing out on selection.

After Daniel Sturridge’s excellent spell on loan to Bolton at the end of last season, where he netted eight times in just 12 starts, he will be looking to make a breakthrough this season. The England U21 international was this week linked with a move to Spurs as part of deal for Luka Modric and although this seems unlikely, he could well be sent out on loan again to develop his experience, something he may not be able to do at Chelsea.

While Drogba may be reaching his twilight years, he is still a highly regarded striker and has recently claimed that he is set for a one year extension to his current deal. Drogba arrived at Stamford Bridge at the same time as Jose Mourinho and his competition then included Adrian Mutu, Eidur Gudjonson and Herman Crespo and he believes that this added pressure turned him a better player. Although worryingly for him and Anelka, Crespo and Mutu were soon out of the club as they didn’t want to play a bit-part role.

Another player who could be fighting for a place is Belgian youngster, Romelu Lukaku after Chelsea reportedly made a move for the 18-year-old. If Lukaka was to sign not only would it add even more competition to the Chelsea frontline but he would be a ready made replacement for Drogba.

Competition for places definitely helps to get the best out of the players who know they have to perform every week in order to secure a place in the starting eleven. As Drogba said: “It is good for the team to have some competition as it helps push the team forward and gets the best out of the players.” However with so many players missing out on selection there is the threat of creating unrest in the squad, not something that Villas-Boas needs in his first season at the club.