Pitchside Europe

Why Drogba, not 'embarrassing Torres,' must replace the injured Costa

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Didier Drogba

Didier Drogba

So far this season, it's all been rosy in Chelsea's garden.

Two wins from two, albeit against newly promoted sides, has got the Blues' Premier League bandwagon rolling along nicely.

However, a thorn has reared its ugly head in the form of an injury to new signing Diego Costa. The powerful Spaniard, who has slipped seamlessly into life at Stamford Bridge following his move Atletico Madrid, has damaged his hamstring.

Early reports suggested that the 25-year-old could be out for up to a month, though the complaint has since been played down by the club and described as a minor muscle injury and will be assessed over the next couple of days.

Of course, the news must be taken with a pinch of salt given Jose Mourinho's tendency to play mind games. Indeed, the last time Costa injured his hamstring, he started the Champions League final a matter of days later, with the help of a placenta or two.

He was withdrawn just nine minutes into the showpiece event on that day, and was clearly still carrying the scars of the risky move from manager Diego Simeone during Spain's insipid defence of the World Cup in Brazil.

Do not expect the Portuguese coach to take such a risk on his spearhead, however, as Costa will need to be sharpened for big tests that will come. This is no slight on Everton, who should have seen out what would have been an impressive victory over Arsenal last weekend, but to risk his fitness further down the lines would be foolish.

In the meantime, Costa's arrival was supposed to provide a solution to the Blues' most obvious problem last season; a lack of firepower up front. Now the same question will be back on everybody's lips, who will now provide it? The query will also be delivered with a hint of irony, given their opponents, for whom Romelu Lukaku will lead the line.

However, a recalling of the old guard has taken place under Mourinho, with Didier Drogba back in familiar surroundings. Indeed, it is the Ivorian that should be given an opportunity to lead the attack for his beloved Blues once more, despite his aging legs.

Fernando Torres is not up to the job. It's as simple as that. The west Londoners should get rid of him and free the burden of his wage budget from their books, even if they must take a financial hit in order to do so. It cannot be any less embarrassing than his displays, and continued involvement, while he is little more than a laughing stock.

The former Liverpool talisman is the shadow of the player he once was and his sale to AC Milan or any of the other number of average Italian sides interested in his signature would be wise, before yet more stagnation sets in.

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Drogba stats in Champions League

Drogba stats in Champions League

 

While the Spaniard is ill fitting of Chelsea's style of play, Drogba is tailor made. So much more than a big target man, the 36-year-old can provide the physical presence needed up front but also bring those around him into play.

The intricate and incisive passing of Chelsea's midfielders was something to behold against Burnley but lackadaisical for large periods against Leicester City. They will not be able to be so lax against an energetic Toffees outfit that will be desperate to repeat the victory over the Londoners that they managed in the early stages of last season.

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Baines and Coleman heat maps v Arsenal

Baines and Coleman heat maps v Arsenal

 Roberto Martinez's side possess two excellent full backs but it is also an area that they can be exposed. In Drogba, the visitors will be able to call upon an excellent out ball. The ageing African still boasts outstanding chest control and can make any passes towards him stick. He may be in the twilight years of his career but he is a commanding presence.

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Drogba passing v Leicester

Drogba passing v Leicester

 

A striker that can hold the ball up is central to Chelsea's style. Drogba can feed the wide men in Eden hazard and Andre Schurrle but is unlikely to provide the runs in behind that Costa can, which has been a much welcomed addition. Instead, he will have to contribute interchanges for players running on around him rather than providing them himself.

Drogba's level have finishing has also shown no sign of abating. If he receives quality in and around the penalty area, this could be the fixture that he re-opens his account for the west Londoners.

A main concern is fitness and an ability to last the course. The Ivory Coast forward may only be able to give Mourinho an hour of football before he, understandably, tires. But it is worth the risk starting him from the outset and exploring other options late on in the game.

Chelsea have been tipped to win the Premier League due to their capabilities in regards to power as well as technical ability. They can either beat the opposition by passing around them or physically over powering them.

This weekend they will need to opt for both, but the battering ram of Drogba used early on before opting for another option, possible in the form of a false nine, once the game is stretched.

Despite the concerns over his fitness, moments such as this are precisely why Drogba was re-signed this summer. Although no longer to lead the line for an entire campaign, he is a reliable option and knows Mourinho's methods like no other.

He has proved throughout his career that he is a big game player and expect him to treat the visit to Merseyside as just that. A homecoming for the man dubbed 'The King' may well be on the horizon.

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