Chelsea FC, predicted by many to win the Premier League, suffered a disappointing loss at Aston Villa on Saturday. The Blues failed to score as Fabian Delph’s 81st minute strike proved to be decisive.
Chelsea still sits at the top of the table, but rivals Manchester City closed the gap with a 1-0 victory over Hull City that leaves them six points off of Chelsea with three matches in hand.
The result was obviously disappointing, but it was to be expected after seeing two men shown red. The Brazilian duo Willian and Ramires were both forced to exit the match early by referee Chris Foy. The disturbing part of the result was the difficulty the Blues had in front of goal.
Chelsea have the best defense in the entire Premier League. Eden Hazard is arguably the best player in the league and certainly one of the most creative midfielders in England. Oscar, Willian, and Andre Schurrle are a fearsome supporting cast as well behind the lone striker. The one missing piece to Chelsea becoming an elite team is a striker that opposing teams really fear.
Fernando Torres is a shadow of the player he was at Liverpool. Samuel Eto’o snatches goals here and there, but he isn’t a true predator. Demba Ba has been missing in action for most of the season.
The Blues have been frustrated by sides that shouldn’t pressure them all season because they haven’t been able to get that opening goal. Many sides play to draw and abandon all offense to protect their goal, and it has worked too many times for comfort. The Blues simply don’t have a striker with killer instincts, and that may just kill their title hopes in 2014.
Jose Mourinho needs to realize that his team right now is lacking that final touch, and that he must address that as soon as possible. The one good aspect of this dilemma is the fact that the answer may not be too far away.
Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian youngster on loan at Everton, has had yet another successful season away from Stamford Bridge. His deadly instinct in front of goal is something that is missing from Chelsea right now. He has ten goals for Everton in the league, and he scored 17 last season for West Bromwich Albion.
It is time to bring Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge. The experience he is getting away from the club has been extremely valuable, but the team needs that fearsome striker and lethal touch in the final third.
It is too late for the 2013-2014 season, but look for Lukaku to feature heavily into Mourinho’s plans next season. Until then Chelsea will have to do its best without that lethal touch.