Where will the goals come from for Chelsea this year?
After years of pragmatic football, there is a lot of excitement in the Chelsea fan base about the appointment of Maurizio Sarri. The biggest reason behind it is the style of play he will bring to the club.
Looking at his Napoli side, which caught the eyes of everyone in Europe, Chelsea is set to play an attractive, attacking and high pressing style of football this year.
Chelsea's goal scoring problem
While the quality of football is set to improve, there is no guarantee it will translate into goals. Last season, the Blues managed only 62 goals in the Premier League. At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea only scored 30 goals in 18 Premier League games. There is clearly a shortage of goals in this Chelsea team.
The problems begin with the personnel whose responsibility it is to get the goals - the strikers. Replacing a player of Diego Costa's caliber was never going to be easy, and Chelsea has found it out the hard way. His replacement Alvaro Morata, has failed to hit the ground running. Scoring only 15 goals in all competitions, the Spaniard was a big disappointment for Antonio Conte last year. More remarkably, there were only five goals from his feet through the campaign.
Despite strong rumors of an exit, Chelsea has put their faith in the former Real Madrid man for another season. So far, pre-season has not given a positive impression to the Stamford Bridge faithful about their former record signing. If Sarri's side is to have a successful season, Morata's form could be a make or break. For all the trust the club has put in him, the Spanish international has to step up to the challenge
His back up is World Cup winner Oliver Giroud. The Frenchman is a player that fans do not take long to love. The former Arsenal man's link-up play is excellent and is someone who always puts in a shift for his team. However, as Arsenal fans found, he is not a prolific goalscorer.
With the current situation, the decision to loan out Michy Batshuayi seems bizarre from Chelsea. The Belgian is far from a complete striker and there are flaws in him. But even his harshest critics cannot deny he has an eye for a goal and is the most natural finisher in the Chelsea squad. Given the goal-scoring deficiencies in the side, Michy Batshuayi could have been a huge asset to this team.
In any team, the wide players are as responsible for scoring goals as the strikers. However at Chelsea that doesn't happen either. Eden Hazard is without a doubt, one of the best players in the world. Hazard's creativity and dribbling is second to none. However, if there is one criticism of him, it is that the Belgian doesn't score enough. Never in his Chelsea career has he scored 20 goals. Quite evidently, he is not a prolific goal scorer.
On the other side, Willian and Pedro have been the emblems of inconsistency. While Pedro was a reliable outlet for goals in Barcelona, the same cannot be said about his time in England. Two of his three seasons at Stamford Bridge have been uninspiring, while in 2016-17, when he did fire, there were still only nine league goals.
On the other hand, Willian is someone who divides opinion like no other player among the Chelsea fanbase. Whichever side one decides to be in the argument, there is no denying that he is barely a goal outlet. In five seasons in England, Willian has 25 Premier League goals. While his number has increased in the last two years from previous years, Chelsea fans will better off not expecting much output from the Brazilian.
17-year-old prodigy, Callum Hudson-Odoi is set to be a member of the first team. His talent and potential is there for everyone to see. But, it will be too early and unfair to have any sort of expectations from him at this stage.
Given the lack of goals and both Pedro and Willian ageing, it's surprising that Chelsea did not add a player in the wide positions. It could be a decision that could come to haunt the Blues.
The arrival of Jorgino and Mateo Kovacic means those two are likely to be N'Golo Kante's partners in midfield. For the past few years, Chelsea has lacked balance and creativity in midfield. That problem is set to solve with the new incomings. However, there are barely any goals in that combination. The trio had three goals in between them last season.
Ross Barkley was someone who had a reputation of being a player who can chip in with goals at Everton. However, he has barely played football for the past year, and one doesn't quite know what to expect from him.
Young Ruben Loftus Cheek and veteran Cesc Fabregas are tremendous options that Chelsea possess but neither has proven to be prolific goalscorers in the mould of Frank Lampard.
Unlike the time of John Terry, none of Chelsea's current central defenders have a reputation of scoring goals from set pieces. However Marcos Alonso has been among Chelsea's highest scorer in the last two seasons.
The Spaniard has a lethal left foot and one will not be surprised to see him score a few free kicks this season. Although, under Antonio Conte, the former Fiorentina left-back, played as a wingback and had the license to bomb into opposition boxes, that will not be the case playing in a traditional back four this campaign.
Goals are scarce
Evidently, goals are scarce in the Chelsea team. In five preseason games, the five-time Premier League Champions only had 3 goals score to show for. While Maurizio Sarri's system almost guarantees the team to hold the majority of the ball, scoring goals might be another story.
Ultimately, if the ball doesn't fly into the back of the net, possession will be fruitless. This could turn out to be Chelsea's new head coach's biggest challenge.