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Sturridge Has To Step Up In Place Of Drogba

The top four heavyweights in the Premier League are all immense forces it has to be said, but they are most tested when without their talisman. Look at Liverpool without Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard, and how Arsenal have at times struggled without Robin Van Persie against Sunderland and Burnley. The African Cup of Nations sees yawning holes in the heart of Chelsea’s squad. John Obi Mikel (Nigeria), Michael Essien (Ghana), Solamon Kalou and Didier Drogba (both Ivory Coast) will all be representing their respective countries in Angola next week for up to a month.

Not even manager Carlo Ancelotti could argue that Chelsea do not look lightweight up front without Drogba. The gangly Ivorian has come up with some moments of inspired genius this season, particularly his skilful team goal against Bolton Wanderers. Ancelotti seems to have Nicolas Anelka and striker partner Drogba interacting better on the pitch in a communication and footballing sense. The likes of Luis Filipe Scolari and Guus Hiddink struggled to help the two compliment eachother, but this season, particularly against lower teams, both players have been devastating.

It remains to be seen how the Londoners will cope without Kalou and Drogba. I am sure most Chelsea fans would admit their team was in trouble if Anelka suffered an injury. Chelsea do have an abundance of young talent to call upon if the worst does come to the worst however. Daniel Sturridge was impressive against Watford in the FA Cup last weekend. His first goal was a knock on at the far post from a scuffed John Terry effort and his second an all together more skilful finish. The former Manchester City striker received the ball just outside the six yard box, steadied the ball on the side of his boot under pressure, before calmly slotting home with the outside of his left boot with the confidence and arrogance of Drogba.

Chelsea’s following can take heart from the recent performances of 20 year old Sturridge as the likes of Fabio Borini and Gael Kakuta are even less experienced. But the question is can Sturridge lead the line and lift his team like Drogba can? Playing at Chelsea, Sturridge has a lot of responsibility. Over the next few months, his goals or miscues could prove the different between titles. He has only played against far inferior opposition such as Watford, Sunderland and Bolton so far. It is a tough learning curve for an English striker of his age at such a huge club. Sturridge is yet to experience consistent first team football anywhere, so can he be relied on in the absence of Chelsea’s big guns?

By missing players such as Essien and Drogba in particular, Chelsea must change the way they play drastically. Without Essien, the back four is not as protected and counter attacks may be a little harder to fashion. Anelka and Sturridge may not hassle defenders for possession as much as Drogba either. Apart from Frank Lamapard, Joe Cole and Anelka, Chelsea have few constant goal threats in their team for the next four weeks. Chelsea have to play Hull, Sunderland, Preston North End, Birmingham City and Burnley in the next few so the African Cup of Nations could have arguably not come at a better time, but Chelsea are clearly now without key players. Manchester United have no players on International duty and defenders to return from injury, so they will be hoping for plenty of upsets this month. Chelsea’s 7th February fixture at home to Arsenal straight after the African Cup of Nations looks a huge game and Chelsea next realistic test, but will it be before convincing wins or lacklustre draws?

If you’re a Chelsea fan, tell us your views on the next few weeks without Drogba. Maybe you are going to be signing reinforcements like David Villa? Would Ancelotti spend the money when he knows his players will be back in four weeks? Have you seen the youngsters for the reserves? Maybe you saw Sturridge score a hat-trick against Ipswich’s reserves in September? Or are these youngsters going to be even better than Drogba? We want to hear your opinion.

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  1. Duke

    January 8, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I think they’ll miss Essien, but not as much as they’ll miss Drogba. The big problem Chelsea has had over the last month or so has been finishing. It’s driven me crazy to watch all the missed opportunities and have them come away with a draw time and time again.

    Hopefully Sturridge and the veterans will step it up to help fill the void. It would be nice to see them working their way back to form in January and really hit their stride after ACN. It’s going to take a lot of work, and at least a little luck, though.

  2. Ryan

    January 8, 2010 at 10:42 am

    It is going to be hard not having Essien and Drogba. Look at what happened last year when he hurt his knee on international duty and was out for 6 months and at the same time Drogba was having on and off knee problems at the start of the season. People need to step it up this month and hopefully everybody comes back from the ACN fit. I would also like to see David Villa or Sergio Aguero signed to play up front with Drogba.

  3. Tyson

    January 8, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Sturridge shouldn’t be discounted but filling Drogbas boots is a very tall order.

    This season in particular Drogba has looked spectacular and has been the main man for Chelsea. Without him they are defintely going to suffer.

  4. Harish

    January 8, 2010 at 7:22 am

    With the january transfer window option open to chelsea , i’d like to see a couple a good transfers this season. It doesn’t matter if we don’t snap up a big buy this window,but with the transfer ban round the corner , i’d like to see some young players like Dzagoev being snapped up. Plus Borini and Studge look promising, if we are looking to sign Villa lets hope that we are not going in for a high price move, like the one that bit our hand with Sheva. I am not sure why CA has reiterated that he doesn’t want to buy in Jan, we need a striker not just for the ACN player’s absence but anelka is on the wrong side of 30 , if you want to blood a borini into the team he must play alongside an established player and not alone in a desperate mode.

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