Former Charlton Athletic manager Alan Curbishley says Chelsea’s title hopes this season rest on the shoulders of striker Diego Costa.
Costa netted 36 times in 56 games for Atletico Madrid during his breakout 2013-14 campaign to earn a £32 million move to Stamford Bridge this summer, despite some concerns that the Spain international might prove a one-season wonder.
However, with two goals in two games, the doubters have so far been silenced, but the ex-Addicks boss warns that the lack of firepower behind him means he’ll have to keep his form up if the club are to challenge for the Premier League crown.
‘Well I think he’s the difference between them winning the league and not winning the league,’ he told Sky Sports News HQ.
‘The question really for me when he came into Chelsea was will he hit the grounds running, which he has done with two goals in two games, as I’m not convinced by the backups.
‘If something happens to Costa, he’s injured or lost form, then I’m not convinced [Didier] Drogba and [Fernando] Torres can take them to the title, whereas Manchester City, with [Sergio] Aguero, [Edin] Dzeko and [Alvaro] Negredo, have those in reserve.
'He's a poacher but what also I like about him is he does do the hard work as well,' he added. 'He’s prepared to into the channels, keep possession and lay it off.
'And every now and then he drops off into the midfield area like a number 10 to allow people to pass him, and then once he’s played them in or keeps the ball he breaks his neck to get into the box. That's why he's so vital.'
With the aging Drogba no longer the striker who once terrorised top-flight defenders and Torres continuing to misfire, there are valid concerns about Chelsea’s lack of depth up top, leaving some to further question whether the £28 million sale of Romelu Lukaku to Everton was a wise move.
After backups Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o also departed this summer, potential injuries could hit the side hard, although the likes of Andre Schurrle, Eden Hazard and even Cesc Fabregas can at least help out on the goal front should Costa could go down.
Nevertheless, the Brazilian-born frontman will remain vital to Chelsea this season, and fans will hope his recent form is a sign of things ahead, as Jose Mourinho’s outfit bid to improve upon 2013-14’s third-place league finish.