Can Demba Ba and Fernando Torres play together?

Fernando Torres

Chelsea’s new striker began with a bang at the weekend, scoring a brace as Chelsea romped to a 5-1 win at Southampton. Is Ba going to edge out Torres, or can the two form a partnership?

If Chelsea fans were unsure of the quality of their new striker, Ba demonstrated what he will bring to the club with a debut brace in Chelsea's come from behind 5-1 victory at Southampton. Whilst Fernando Torres took 14 miserable matches to get off the mark for the Blues, Ba showed the confidence of a man in form, and the question is already clear for Rafa Benitez, is Ba going to push Torres out of Chelsea starting eleven?

In Europe, Torres will have to play as Ba is cup-tied for the Europa League, but the Spaniard will not be content to regularly sit on the bench in Chelsea's other competitions. Benitez has said that he will play Ba with Torres, but is this a practical solution?

To do so you would expect Ba to move out to the flank, as Chelsea are unlikely to chance their formation to accommodate two strikers through the middle. Ba showed at Newcastle that he is a good player in this position, building the play as Papiss Cisse ran riot in the second half of last season. However Ba himself stopped scoring when moved to the flank, and Torres' form is worlds away from Cisse's, meaning Chelsea could end up undermining their own attack by moving Ba to the flank.

They would also have to drop one of their attacking midfielders to set up this system, and for all Ba's qualities, you wouldn't expect him to be as effective in the role behind the striker as Hazard, Mata, Oscar or Moses. If moving Ba here not only lessens his goal threat, and displaces a talented midfielder, then Benitez would be mad to do so just to manufacture a place for an out of form Torres.

The manager clearly has a conundrum. Another blow to Torres confidence could see him finished at Stamford Bridge, but Chelsea need goals to stay in the running for trophies this season. Ba has already shown he can deliver, and playing him with Torres would likely lessen the impact of both Ba and the attacking midfielders that have been the driving force behind Chelsea's success this season.

Given the amount of minutes Torres has played so far this season Benitez has the perfect excuse to keep him on the bench for the next couple of matches, but after then the Chelsea manager has some serious decisions to make to keep his team scoring and Torres happy.

image: © Wshjackson

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