Many were surprised by the line-up that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho chose to field against PSG last evening. Selecting Andre Schurrle to play the striker’s role whilst £50million striker Fernando Torres and Demba Ba sat on the bench was much more than a statement about his approach to this particular game, it was more of an open letter to the club’s hierarchy that he totally lost faith with his trio of front players, with perhaps the possible exception to some extent, of Samuel Eto’o.
"I'm not happy with my strikers, I have to try things," lamented Mourinho. The record of the trio his season is an eloquent support to that assessment. Between them, Eto’o, Torres and Ba have accumulated a paltry 12 goals, with the Cameroon international having eight of them and Ba yet to find the net. In comparison, PSG trio of Ibrahimovic, Cavani and Lavezzi have a combined total of 46 league goals. Yes, of course Ligue 1 is an entirely different scenario to the Premier League, but knocking on for four times the total is the sort of abject difference that exposes the limitations of the Blues’ squad at the sharp end.
Mourinho defended his decision to deploy Schurrle in an advanced position. "With Andre at least I know we have one more player to have the ball, we have one more player to associate with the other players. Football is also about scoring goals. That is for strikers, for real strikers. I had to try." It’s a harsh condemnation, but one that’s difficult to dispute.
As the season has progressed Chelsea’s lack of a top line striker has become more and more relevant to the club’s aspirations, and now seems almost certain to condemn them to a trophy-less year. Moving forward, as the summer transfer window approaches, without doubt it will Mourinho’s number one priority to ensure that situation is rectified. It’s to the manager’s credit that he has managed to extract performances from his squad that has played virtually without a front man. It won’t be something he’ll be keen to repeat next season however.