Stage set for Daniel Sturridge to Bridge the gap

sturridgeChelsea are believed to be experiencing somewhat of a striking crisis at the moment. Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou are Angola bound for the African Cup of Nations and Nicholas Anelka has been sidelined through injury yet whilst title rivals United failed to score  yesterday, crashing out of the F.A Cup to League One Leeds United in the process, Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea side hit five past Championship side Watford.

The Blues overwhelmed the Hornets in what was nothing short of a demolition. Ancelotti’s side found themselves 3-0 up within 22 minutes and after starving Watford of possession, it began to become a case of how many for the Premier League side. Admittedly Watford are not opposition of the highest quality but this being said, Chelsea still produced a clinical performance in the absence of their hit-man Didier Drogba. Ancelotti opted to instead deploy Daniel Sturridge in a loan striker role, supported by the width of Florent Malouda and the flamboyant Joe Cole and it appeared to work wonders. Sturridge impressed his critics with a brace and always looked dangerous. It would seem as though the ex-Manchester City ace has found his form at the perfect time.

There are doubts amongst the Chelsea faithful about whether or not Sturridge can fill the void left by the Africans and January is believed to have come at the worst time given the Blues’ recent league form. As much potential as the youngster may have, Sturridge is no Drogba and he undoubtedly has a huge task on his hands in what will prove to be a key month for Chelsea, however, there is one man who has the utmost faith in his abilities; Carlo Ancelotti. Ancelotti said of his performance yesterday:

“He scored two goals and that’s important for a striker, without Drogba, it is important to have him in good condition. He played very well for the whole match and this performance will improve his confidence but he deserved that. I think that we can do a good January. I had good answers about other players. Juliano Belletti played very well in central midfield and I think we can do good performances without the other African players.”

Sturridge gave a traditional strikers performance yesterday, with his movement and instinct being particularly impressive. He latched onto a stray John Terry strike after just six minutes, reacting quickest to the loose ball to turn it goalwards and it appeared to be the jump start that the striker needed. The Englishman was unlucky not to double his tally before the hour mark as he was continuously foiled by the Watford goalkeeper Scott Loach, yet the amount of space and opportunities that he created for himself is a promising sign for the weeks to come. His second goal was the highlight of the game as he once again peeled away from the Watford defence to find space in a crowded box. He used his first touch to pull the ball away from the oncoming defence and the second to guide it past Loach with a delicate touch; it was a goal that suggests not only a natural talent, but also a confidence in his own abilities.

If this is the beginning of a run of form for Sturridge then it could not have come at a better time for Chelsea. With little disrespect to the Blues’ future opponents, they are not of the highest Premier League quality and Sturridge will likely fancy his chances of getting on the score sheet in the upcoming weeks. Ancelotti has installed his confidence in the striker, and whilst he is by no means Didier Drogba, he must believe he is capable of filling the Ivorian’s boots such is Chelsea’s reliance on him in the African’s absence. He will however, have the returning Nicholas Anelka to help carry the burden yet this is Sturridge’s time to stand up and be counted. He has the chance to show Manchester City what they are missing.

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