New strikers? Chelsea need new defenders if they want to win the title

Gary Cahill Chelsea

Critics have mistakenly blamed Chelsea's strikers for dropped points this season, when the real faults lie in defence.

When Jose Mourinho won his first Premier League title in 2005, his Chelsea side conceded just 15 goals.

Already in 2013-14, they have conceded 17 - more than Arsenal, Manchester City, Everton, Tottenham, Southampton and Aston Villa.

In their last two games alone, the Blues have conceded six, shipping three both at Sunderland and at Stoke.

And yet it is Chelsea's strikers that are receiving the brunt of the criticism for results that have seen them drop to third place in the league - a no doubt new situation to the Mourinho of old.

Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto'o have scored just four Premier League goals between them so far this term and many are calling for a new striker to take the reins at Stamford Bridge.

But Chelsea have scored 30 times in the league this season, once more than Arsenal (before their game against Everton) and only four less than Liverpool - the two teams above them in the table.

The key issue here is that Mourinho does not look to his strikers to net the majority of his goals. Compare the Blues' front three to the trio of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Frank Lampard. They have 15 league goals between them this term.

That is not to mention Andre Schurrle, whose double yesterday almost put Stoke to the sword before they came back to stun their visitors.

Indeed, where goals are concerned, Mourinho's side do not actually have a problem. They have scored nine in their last three.

It is in defence where the Blues must invest in January - instead of spending millions on another striker that may only have a similar impact to that of Torres, Ba and Eto'o.

How can Chelsea win the league if they are forced to score four goals every game to do it? Against Sunderland, they just about managed it. But, against Mark Hughes' Stoke, it proved a step too far.

Meanwhile, John Terry and Gary Cahill let in goal after goal and the calls grow louder and louder for a new striker.

There is no doubt about it: Chelsea are short at the back. Mourinho clearly has his doubts about David Luiz, while Cahill often looks like he is still a Bolton defender scrapping against relegation in Luiz's place. For all his England caps, he often simply lacks the quality to play for a title-chasing side.

Mistakes, too, are commonplace among Chelsea's full-backs, with Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta not averse to the odd defensive error. All the while, Ashley Cole cannot even get into the side.

At Inter in 2008, Mourinho made do with a side he had inherited for a full season, before making the changes he needed to claim a historic treble.

During his second reign at Chelsea, the Special One may want to start making those changes early. But it is strengthening his defence that must be made a priority - not his attack.

images: © Ben Sutherland, © Ben Sutherland

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