While the commercial media collectively lambasted Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho for his seemingly limited options in the striking department, in a season where a loanee - Romelu Lukaku - is cannoning in goals from all angles at temporary club Everton, the Portuguese coach made no secret of his knowledge that summer signing Samuel Eto'o would eventually come good.
Because Eto'o, a proven hitman who had won it all with Mourinho during their time together at Internazionale was, in Jose's own words, off-pace, lacking fitness and had seen his all-round game suffer because of two seasons spent on the books at Anzhi Makhachkala, in an inferior Russian Premier League (when compared to Serie A, La Liga or the Premier League).
Eto'o, though, was a natural athlete with a slim physique and had retained his technical finesse and predatory instincts. There was no doubt in Mourinho's mind that once he reacclimatised to the pace and skill-level of a top tier division, that he would be responsible for a goal glut.
After all, this was the man who returned 164 goals and assists in 201 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona, and 75 from 101 for Internazionale.
Speaking after Chelsea's 3-0 trouncing of Schalke, a performance that saw Eto'o twice get on the score-sheet, Mourinho was quoted by the club's official site to have said: 'My favourite players are the players that win matches for me, not the ones that lose matches for me. Samuel worked with me in the best season of my career [Inter's treble-winning campaign of 2010]. We won everything. So he’s in a good position.'
He continued: 'He was for two years playing without big motivations and when you play without big motivations, you train without big motivations and you lose condition, and you lose sharpness, and you lose even appetite. It was not a surprise for me that he arrived here not in the best conditions after two years in Anzhi.
'Now step by step he is going. He is 32 but he’s a fit, slim guy. He’s not a heavy body. He’s intelligent, of course, and I think goals give confidence.'
Mikel echoed Mourinho's high praise of veteran striker Eto'o: 'He knows when to run, when to stay and when to move. His ability with the ball is fantastic. He's a striker who loves to press, and it's our duty to do that behind him in midfield as well. The second was a well-taken finish past the keeper, and we see that all the time.
'We've got some brilliant strikers and we all knew it was just a matter of time before they started scoring. Samuel is a fantastic player and we all know what he can bring to this Chelsea side.'
Chelsea host West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, November 9 at Stamford Bridge. In west London, Chelsea are on fire, returning 12 goals from five games. Albion, meanwhile, have conceded six and won just once.
Is now the time where Eto'o begins scoring consistently? His team-mates and manager certainly think so… do you? Let us know in the comment section below.
image: © Jason Bagley