Favourites for the title, but constant injury problems to Chelsea’s forwards may eventually take its toll
After fading out of the title race last season, Jose Mourinho went hunting in the summer window for a prolific striker after Torres, Eto’o and Ba all failed to reach any kid of goal return they’re expected to reach at a club like Chelsea. In new signings Diego Costa, Loic Remy and Didier Drogba, Chelsea now have the ammunition to fire them to the title and to rival Manchester City and Manchester United’s strikeforce.
The squad depth at the club is frightening, and with Jose Mourinho at the helm, Costa and Fabregas settling in very well early on, the Blues are rightly favourites for the title even with injury problems to their forwards. Chelsea go into this weekend’s super Sunday clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford as favourites, but Drogba and Remy have been ruled out, but Schurrle may return following illness and Drogba and youngster Dominic Solanke are available for selection.
Mourinho says Costa has “a little chance” of featuring in the game at Old Trafford, but is likely to be rested to ensure he doesn’t aggravate an ongoing hamstring/groin problem. Costa is back training but only took part in a light training session away from the first team in preparation for the Manchester United game, proving Chelsea are not trying to rush him back into the team. The striker was also released from hospital on Thursday after treatment on a severe stomach virus, but is now free from illness and looking to regain full fitness.
The striker has now picked up his third hamstring injury this season including two suffered away on international duty, but now has a groin issue to add to his injury woes. Costa picked up a suspected hamstring/groin injury on the second international break of the season after playing the full 90 minutes for Spain away to Slovakia and playing the majority of the match in Luxembourg despite joining up with the squad with a hamstring problem.
The recurrence of Costa’s hamstring problem is due to a handful of injuries he picked up towards the end of long and testing season with Atletico Madrid. The 26-year-old was often rushed back into the team before fully recovering and was even forced off after lasting nine minutes in the Champions League final. As well as a testing domestic campaign, the forward was back in action for Spain in the World Cup just one month later, where we didn’t see the best of Diego Costa as he never looked fully fit. Because Diego Costa was so vital to Atletico Madrid and their squad was constantly stretched, he was virtually played every game possible, but fortunately Chelsea have enough in reserve to replace this world class striker if he needs to be rested.
The Frenchman scored his first goal and opened the scoring in the Champions League tie against Maribor on Wednesday night, but unfortunately sustained an injury in the process of scoring, forcing the striker off after just 16 minutes and replaced by Drogba. The striker will apparently be out of action for up to 2-3 weeks after scans revealed the extent of a groin injury, meaning he looks set to miss the away tie against Maribor in the Champions League and possibly the trip to Anfield in the Premier League two weeks from now.
Costa’s injury problems may mean Remy will get the nod to start up top a lot more than most predicted, as Chelsea will not want to risk forcing Costa back into action too early as long as he doesn’t have his own injury concerns. Chelsea purchased the QPR striker on deadline day as they looked for more cover following the loan departures of Fernando Torres and youngster Patrick Bamford, as well as the sale of Lukaku to Everton and the release of Samuel Eto’o.
Liverpool attempted to sign Remy in the summer window but the move broke down after he reportedly failed a medical at the club due to a heart problem, which was denied by some, including Remy’s former boss at QPR, Harry Redknapp. It wasn’t the first time the heart problem was discovered, as his transfer to Marseille from Nice in 2010 was unsuccessful due to concerns over a potential heart problem.
Remy has also suffered his fair share of injuries during his short time in the Premier League, with notable calf and groin injuries during his time at QPR and more so at Newcastle where he spent a total of two months out of action during his time at St James’s Park.
Former Marseille strikers now united at Chelsea – Loic Remy and Didier Drogba
The 36-year-old has been troubled by ankle injuries for almost a month now, but came off the bench following Remy’s injury against Maribor and scored his first goal in his second spell for the club, on target from the penalty spot and almost identical to his winning penalty in the Champions League final and his last appearance before leaving for Galatasaray.
The Ivorian is available for selection this weekend, but admits he is not fully fit after spending almost a month out with an ankle injury. If that’s the case, Drogba may start but not be able to play the full 90 minutes, or we may see Andre Schurrle operate up top or perhaps Mourinho will surprise us all and give 18-year-old England international Dominic Solanke his first senior start for the club.
The Chelsea legend scored 100 goals for Chelsea in 226 appearances during his first stint at the club between 2004 and 2012, and after scoring his first goal on his return, he will be hoping to stay fit and get more opportunities to play for his beloved club.
I think Chelsea have found an answer to their downfall last season – a striker who can consistently perform, and most importantly, score goals. Costa is already a prolific goalscorer and is well on his way to scoring at least 20 goals in his first season in the Premier League, but injury could impact and Chelsea and the onus will be on Remy, Drogba and Chelsea’s midfield to chip in with goals. Even without Costa, Chelsea still possess the a talented squad that many will envy.