Four striking alternatives open to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho
Chelsea visit Manchester United fresh off hitting Maribor for six in the Champions League, but Blues boss Jose Mourinho could be facing something of a striker shortage at ‘the Theatre of Dreams’.
Coral make Premier League leaders Chelsea 7/5 chances to beat the Red Devils. With top scorer Diego Costa just out of hospital after illness and long-standing fitness concerns, plus Loic Remy limping off in midweek because of a hamstring problem, they are short up front, however.
Remy has insisted he will be fit to face United, but Mourinho does have club legend Didier Drogba, now 36, available. The Ivorian veteran cannot last like when he was in his prime, though, and may no longer be able to play a big part in two matches so close together.
This dilemma got Coral’s football experts thinking what alternatives are open to the Blues boss? Here are four tactical options instead of Costa or Remy for ‘the Special One’ to consider.
Play Cesc Fabregas as a ‘false nine’
Loathe as Mourinho would be to adopt a tactic that old adversary Pep Guardiola used at Barcelona and Vicente del Bosque tried with Spain, using midfield playmaker Fabregas as a nominal centre forward could cause United real problems.
Clever movement against a back four which seems to keep changing every game under Louis van Gaal because of injuries, returns and suspensions would make for a real Red Devils headache. Fabregas is excelling in midfield right now but, without Costa to lay assists on for, he may have to take up the goal burden himself and is a 7/2 shot to score against United.
Move Eden Hazard into the middle
In similar fashion to Fabregas, Belgium whizz Hazard could be a short-term solution, using his positional play and guile to get between the Red Devils’ lines. Injuries in attack have previously forced Mourinho’s hands before and pushed this usual left wing operator into the centre.
Hazard has scored twice against United before, one each in domestic cup competitions. He also bagged a brace against Maribor, and a repeat performance or better here comes in at a fabulous 14/1.
Throw Dominic Salonke in at the deep end
Hugely talented teenage prospect Salonke got 15 minutes off the bench against Maribor last time out. Mourinho may have to use the 17-year-old again if neither Costa nor Remy prove their fitness.
It would be bold beyond belief to start him, with Drogba, who is at the opposite end of his career, starting. This will be a step up in class for Salonke on what would be a Premier League debut, and he is a 15/2 chance to score last and break his duck.
Give Andre Schurrle another outing up front
A World Cup winner with Germany, Schurrle’s best displays for club and country have been as an impact sub. Having missed the last couple of Chelsea games with flu, he could return here leading the attack rather than his usual wide berth.
Schurrle hit a hat-trick against Fulham last term, earning rave reviews over how he single-handedly won that west London derby for the Blues and helped contribute towards the Craven Cottage club’s relegation. It’s time he stepped up and produced performances like this, and what better way to do it than from the front? Schurrle is an 11/4 chance to net anytime at Old Trafford.