I have been critical of Fernando Torres all season, even writing a whole article on this back in November: http://www.barriesview.com/2012/11/fernando-torres-season-so-far
The January arrival of Demba Ba really gives Chelsea a better striking option up front, and given that Fernando Torres started in the cup midweek I am expecting the Senegalese striker to get straight into the start lineup at Stoke today.
Playing for a side that are only 3 places and 2 points outside of the relegation zone for the first 21 games this season, only Robin van Persie and Michu had more Premier League goals before his move to Stamford Bridge.
Personally, I think it’s a good move for both the player and the club. Since arriving in England, playing for both West Ham and Newcastle, all Demba Ba has done in score goals. Yes, he was in poor form during the second half of last season following the arrival of Papiss Demba Cisse, but I felt that those two just didn’t click as a partnership at Newcastle.
Let’s look at the statistics of these two players so far this season:
Demba Ba leaders Fernando Torres 13-7 in Premier League goals scored, but the former Newcastle front man has had several more attempts on goal, 89-47. The Spaniard narrowly has a better shots per goal record, 6.7-6.8.
At Chelsea, Ba should be able to bring that latter count down. With the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar in the team, great opportunities shall come and defences will be spread out more to close down individual players in the Blue.
Looking at clear-cut chances, Ba has scored 7 of his 13 opportunities compared to Torres only scoring 3 of 11. Give Ba those opportunities in his new Chelsea shirt and he’ll put more than his fare share away.
One thing I noticed earlier in the season was that Fernando Torres was having a few headed chances at goal. Yet the Spaniard has never really come across as an aerial threat. And he never scored with these opportunities either. Ba leads the league in headed opportunities in the league, so the likes of Mata, Hazard and César Azpilicueta can continue to play balls into the area with a bigger threat of a striker in the box to aim for now.
Link Up Play
Fernando Torres was time-and-time again coming back to collect the ball, sometimes hanging out on the wings (he has attempted 25 crosses to Ba’s 12 this season). I don’t see the new striker doing this and I don’t believe the central striker needs to be doing this at Chelsea.
With the fantastic creative midfielders Chelsea have, without evening mentioning Victor Moses and Ramires who have also set up a few chances for team mates this season, Demba Ba should be looking to get into the penalty areas and make runs behind the defence and into space as much as he can instead of worrying about collecting a pass 30 yards out from goal or down the flank.
Demba Ba is 9/1 to be the Premier League top scorer at the end of the season. With Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez ahead of him he’s going to have a difficult time overtaking them admittedly, but I think it’s a decent bet. With two games, against Stoke City and Southampton this weekend, compared to Manchester United and Liverpool facing each other on Sunday, should Ba start both games I would immediately expect him to close the gap.
I’m going to say Demba Ba is an upgrade on Fernando Torres for Chelsea and should he get a good run out in the first team/stay fit, I am confident he’ll have a better goals per minute ratio than the Spaniard at the end of the season.