Two wins and a draw from their last three matches has ignited a slow, steady, but imperative improvement in form for Chelsea, but doubts around some players still remain at the club.
Diego Costa is the main target currently as the Brazilian-born Spaniard, who hit 20 league goals in his debut season in English football, has only scored one goal in his last eight outings for Chelsea.
The discontent that surrounds the controversial Costa hit a new level during the 0-0 draw at Tottenham Hotspur as the unused substitute threw his bib in the direction of manager Jose Mourinho in a clear sign of his frustration at being dropped. Costa did not even take part in the pre-match warm-up at White Hart Lane.
It led to Eden Hazard, another under-performer this season, to step in as the lone striker in an unfamiliar ‘false nine’ position, and he did well, but failed to produce a goal as he notably headed one effort above the bar and also had a volley brilliantly kept out by Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Loic Remy missed the match due to recently becoming a father and Radamel Falcao also did not make the trip as he grows increasingly more irritable with life in West London. He reportedly could have his season-long loan cut short in the coming weeks and months.
With Costa’s joy in-front of goal only coming in bouts, a clamour for him to be replaced and/or even sold has started among a section of Blues supporters, but few alternatives sound like they could work.
Ex-wonderkid Alexandre Pato is one name linked to a move to Stamford Bridge, however to say signing a player who has had his injury problems is always a risk and could be akin to Falcao, who, as mentioned, could be set to leave almost as soon as he arrived.
Surprise English goalscoring starlets Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy are both too being monitored by the Premier League champions, but Kane is unlikely to leave a team so close to his heart in Tottenham, especially to move to a London rival, and while Vardy’s run of scoring that has seen him beat Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of goals in consecutive games is sensational, his form could still be a flash-in-the-pan. He only netted five league goals throughout all of last season.
Alex Texeira of Shakhtar Donetsk and Atletico Madrid’s Antoin Griezmann are other possible alternatives to the misfiring Costa, but the former is more accustomed to playing behind a centre forward as either a number 10 or a winger and Griezmann is deployed in a 4-4-2 which Chelsea do not play, and it is uncertain whether the 24-year-old could be as effective without a strike partner.
The other alternative is the fans’ favourite – promoting youth, but again this seems to be a solution that would simply not work.
Patrick Bamford has been tipped for stardom at Chelsea for a while now due to his good showing in League One for MK Dons as well as for Derby County and Nottingham Forest in the Championship that led to him being named the Championship Player of the Year last season, but he is currently on-loan at Crystal Palace where he has been limited to appearances off-the-bench and he is yet to find the back of the net for the Eagles.
Meanwhile, Dom Solanke has just four strikes to his name in the Eredivisie at feeder club Vitesse Arnhem and Tammy Abraham, who like Solanke, hit over 35 goals for the youth team last season, has no first-team experience at any level. A lot of pressure for young and inexperienced shoulders to drag Chelsea out of their current predicament.
He may have his struggles in front of goal, he may have a bit of an attitude problem, he may be a bit of a psychopath at times, but Costa is a winner – a proven winner, and in many ways his attitude makes him winner – the title of his biography “The Art of War” tells you all you need to know about that.
Chelsea have a fight on their hands at the moment, and Costa could be the master general.