It’s January 2011, and Chelsea have just signed Fernando Torres from Liverpool for a British record transfer fee of £50 million.
The Spaniard was signed to provide a goalscoring threat to compete with the increasingly ageing Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba. Perennial goalscoring midfielder Frank Lampard was still registering impressive statistics despite being 32-years-old, and much of the Blues goalscoring pressure was being placed on Florent Malouda - who was starting to decline following his incendiary 2009/10 season at Stamford Bridge.
However, as is well known, Torres failed to live up to the expectations laid out by Drogba, and the forward took three months to register his first goal since moving to West London. His strike in the 3-0 victory over West Ham was his only goal in 18 appearances that season, and his first of just 20 in 110 Premier League games across three-and-a-half seasons.
To put that in perspective, summer signing Diego Costa has registered more than half of Torres’s entire tally in less games than the Spaniard played in his first season at Chelsea. Costa has 11 goals in 10 Premier League games to lead the clubs scoring charts, and he is just one behind Premier League top scorer Sergio Aguero - who has also played two games more.
Having a striker confident in front of goal has taken much of the pressure of the midfielders, allowing the likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar to thrive as creators, and the whole team has benefitted in the process. Play looks more fluid and less forced than in recent seasons, with goal openings coming increasingly often as the season progresses.
Didier Drogba and Loic Remy have also scored one goal apiece, taking the Chelsea strikers on to a combined tally of 13 goals. At one point of the season, the Blues’ forwards had combined to score 52% of Chelsea’s goals, whilst the midfield had offered just 38%.
This represents a major improvement upon recent seasons, when the club were becoming increasingly reliant upon the likes of Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard to provide goals. Since the 2010/11 season - so since the arrival of Torres - the Blues midfielders have outscored their striker counterparts, registering 52%, 55% and 40% of the goals in the three seasons going backwards towards 2011.
Costa’s impact upon Chelsea has been evident since he netted his first goal on the opening day of the season in a 3-1 win at Burnley. He is on course to continue scoring, and, with doubts about his fitness still circling, it will be amazing to see just how good the striker is when playing at his full capacity.