By James McManus
The sight of Fernando Torres huffing and puffing his way around the Hawthorns to no avail only further pressed home the need for Chelsea to invest in a striker of a truly world-class level when the opportunity presents itself in January, with the spectre of Atletico Madrid man Radamel Falcao continuing to loom large.
The team's recent slump in form continues to cause concern and they are now without a win in their last four league games. On a day when the striking prowess of Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez blasted rivals Manchester City to a dominant 5-0 win over Aston Villa at home, the contrast could not have been more stark.
The 26-year-old Colombia international was once regarded as little more than a needless indulgence at the beginning of the campaign, when Torres looked for all intents and purposes as if he was finally getting to grips with his role at Stamford Bridge, but his acquisition should now be seen as something closer to a necessity.
There will be a long queue for Falcao's signature but Roberto Di Matteo hinted at a move for him earlier in the week, stating to reporters: "If you ask any manager, he would have him in his team. He is one of the best strikers, probably, in European and world football. His ratio of goals per game is quite impressive, not just this season but over the last three seasons, at Porto and Atletico Madrid."
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That Di Matteo chose to rest both Juan Mata and Oscar for the defeat to West Brom, with one eye on the pivotal Champions League clash away against Juventus in midweek, only served to illustrate further that this is a side built upon soft foundations which will struggle without the presence of several key players.
Not enough credit can be attributed to the Italian for the way in which he has slowly but surely gone about adapting the club's style of play over the past nine months since taking over the reins from Andre Villas-Boas and plenty of the hard work in terms of integrating players into a new system has been done already.
Chelsea have finally moved away from the seemingly entrenched style embedded in the DNA of the side ever since the Jose Mourinho era, to a more fluid, counterattacking 4-2-3-1 formation, which can be seen as little more than a deliberate attempt to try and get the best out of their £50m frontman Torres.
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With Frank Lampard's influence on the wane, giving in to the inevitable decline of time, there is a real shortage of goals throughout the side, and they will remain unable to make the most of the attacking triumvirate of Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar which is the envy of Europe and, when on form, tantamount to unstoppable.
Both Manchester sides have been hauled to the top of the table on the strength of their forward ranks this term. Turning draws into victories is the hallmark of champions and both City and Manchester United have sealed five victories this season in the league by a solitary goal, with the form of Aguero, Tevez, Robin van Persie and Chicharito bailing out ropey defensive displays time and time again.
For a club often portrayed as greedy, one founded on the strength of their bank balance as opposed to anything to do with their underlying footballing principles, the need for Falcao becomes clearer by the week.
While he certainly will not come cheaply, he could be the most intelligent and essential purchase of the Di Matteo era to date and, if they are to make the most of their potential this season, the difficult decision of ditching Torres in favour of Falcao needs to be made.
Now is your chance to meet Falcao and see the Colombian superstar play live! All you need to do is click HERE, pick your three favourite Falcao goals out of the 10 and if your choices match up with the striker's, you will be in with a chance to meet the Atletico forward as well as seeing him play against Deportivo La Coruna on December 9.
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