Pitchside

Is forgotten man Demba Ba the answer to Chelsea’s striking woes?

Pitchside

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Should Chelsea use Demba Ba more? Having scored the goal that heaved the Blues over the line against Paris Saint-Germain, Jose Mourinho compared his forgotten front man to Didier Drogba, and with the current poverty of other attacking options at Stamford Bridge, greater opportunities may yet be coming his way.

With only three goals to his name in 15 league appearances however, the Senegalese forward will need to improve his strike rate to make the most of any fresh chances afforded to him. After all, that already tenuous likening to Drogba won't stick without the impact to match the billing.

He has however, scored in each of his last three Champions League games in a Chelsea shirt, finding the net against Schalke, Steuea Bucharest and now PSG, which could see him prioritised for European nights, where his physical power may be more effective than in the Premier League.

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Yet finishing isn't the only thing Mourinho requires from his forwards. With a jam-packed roster of attacking midfield talent, the Blues' boss needs a striker who can hold up the ball for on-rushing playmakers and wingers.

At present, Samuel Eto'o is the king at Stamford Bridge when it comes to creativity in the league, with 1.53 chances produced per 90 minutes, followed by Fernando Torres on 1.31. Ba's rate lags behind at just 0.94, but it can be argued that his lack of playing time has hampered any potential chemistry and understanding between him and his teammates. Eto'o clearly possesses the sharpest mind of the three when in and around the box however, as demonstrated by some of his exceptionally canny goals and assists this year, such as against Cardiff City's David Marshall.

It should come as no surprise that Torres beats his teammates when it comes to take-ons given his tendency to beat his markers, if only to then fluff the opportunities he crafts himself when in on goal, but his advantage in the air over Ba is somewhat unexpected. The former Newcastle striker only trumps the Spaniard when it comes to his pass completion rate suggesting that, on paper at least, he isn't the player to turn to when power and pace are what Mourinho requires from his attackers.

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By contrast, in Europe Ba has dominated the skies with an impressive success rate of 47.06% when it comes to headed duels. He also beats Torres in regards to chances created in the Champions League, with 1.25 produced per 90 minutes compared to his rival forward's score of 0.68.

He is also by far the most efficient of the three in front of goal against continental opposition, out-stripping both Eto'o and Torres in terms of goals scored per 90 minutes and equaling the Cameroonian's shot accuracy rate of 80%.

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It could be argued that Ba has been sussed out by the more robust defences of the Premier League, having lost the element of surprise that allowed him make such a big impression for West Ham and Newcastle. Going by his statistics, that shock factor remains in Europe's most glamorous arena.

Though he may not be a worthy successor to Drogba at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's forgotten front man could certainly make the sort of impact his Ivorian predecessor would be proud of as Mourinho's secret weapon in the Champions League. It's unlikely that Sergio Ramos or even the likes of Dante will enjoy locking horns with an under-the-radar target man.

In the Premier League however, Eto'o and Torres — or a less orthodox option such as Andre Schurrle — should remain the mainstays of Mourinho's front line.

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