By Shikharr Chandra
It is a sight we haven't seen yet. The idea of Didier Drogba running past John Terry and putting Petr Cech to test is something Jose Mourinho was used to seeing at Cobham training ground. No matter who lost in that battle, it was Chelsea who came out winners. This time though, Terry and co. would hope that Drogba has an off day on field.
The Ivorian turns 36 next month but age has hardly affected his form. He has spearheaded a Galatasaray side that passed the stern test of Juventus to reach the Champions League knock out rounds and has guided his team into the second spot in the Turkish Leagu, four behind league leaders Fenerbahce.
After a momentary spell at China, Drogba made his return to the Champions League with Galatasaray last season where he faced Mourinho' Real Madrid in the quarter finals, a test the Turkish were outclassed in.
When the duo meet again at the Telekom arena, it will be another gentle reminder to Mourinho of where Chelsea stand since the departure of their talismanic striker close to two years ago.
The London club has spent millions on an array of attacking talent with the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar slowly becoming the face of the club whereas Nemanja Matic's return has strengthened an area where they had struggled since the departure of Michael Ballack.
But despite spending more than £100m over the past two seasons, they are still short in the striking department. The void left with the departure of Romelu Lukaku on loan was filled by Samuel Eto'o adding to the current crop of centre-forwards in Demba Ba and Fernando Torres.
Lack of firepower | Chelsea have failed to replace Drogba
Drogba was a man for the big occasions. Nine cup finals, nine goals. A menace for opposition defenders and a peril every time he stepped foot at the Emirates. With Drogba there was a sense of assurance and even though he was not the kind of striker who would score 30 goals every season, his sheer presence in the side served as a warning for the defenders. He is among those rare hybrid strikers who provided the blend of both pace and strength.
He was a natural leader. The sight of him doing the team talk alongside John Terry before Chelsea's crucial game against Valencia was an image of how well the former Marseille striker is respected by his team mates. Eventually it was he who made the difference in the said game by scoring twice to ensure the Blues progressed to the next round of the competition.
It was not just his attacking duties but it was also the defensive part of his game where would provide an additional body when needed. Down to 10-men at Nou Camp against Barcelona, Drogba filled in as an additional defender when needed.
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Since leaving Chelsea back in the summer of 2012, Drogba has continued where he left off. He has managed to score 26 goals, four less than Torres who has played almost double the games.
Chelsea forwards have been toothless in front of goal. The Blues were in desperate need of goal against Everton in the weekend when Mourinho decided to send Torres on to provide some firepower in the attack all the Spaniard could muster was a couple of wayward shoots from outside the box.
Torres cuts across as a frustrated figure in the side if things dont go his way and even though he has shown glimpses of his old form, even the most ardent Chelsea fans have seem to lost hope in him now.
Samuel Eto'o has excelled in moments like the hat-trick against Manchester United but suffers from a lack of consistency. The Cameroonian is a shadow of a player he was at Barcelona and Inter Milan.
Demba Ba has hardly been given a chance but truth be told, the former Newcastle striker isn't any better than Torres and Eto'o.
There were question marks raised when Mourinho decided to let Lukaku go on loan who currently has a better goal scoring form than the aforementioned strikers and has been often likened to Drogba. However former Real Madrid manager looks to have made the right decision in providing him with some much needed game time at Everton rather than wasting his talent on Chelsea's bench.
Mourinho: 'The problem with Chelsea is I lack a scorer, I have Eto’o but he is 32 years old, maybe 35, who knows?'
As much as that statement might be demoralising for the players, there is no denying that Mourinho's comments are true. Chelsea have lacked a striker who can step up to the occasion and score the crucial goals.
The onus has now been shifted on Eden Hazard to come up with match winning performance and his failure to deliver in a game puts them in a quandary.
On Wednesday night, while Chelsea might have more quality in their line-up and would most definitely be the favourites to go past the Turkish giants in the two legged tie, but the sight of Drogba pushing his arms outwards, and sliding down, celebrating his goal could be another gentle reminder to the Blues on their obvious limitations.
Statistics Source: Opta