October 5, 2023

Chelsea has faced difficulties finding the back of the net this season, enduring goalless draws in their last two matches against Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest. Only Everton, Burnley, Luton Town, and Bournemouth have scored fewer goals than Chelsea in the current Premier League season. The Blues have managed just five goals in their first five matches, a rate that mirrors their underwhelming performance last season when they scored 38 goals in 38 games.

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Mauricio Pochettino’s team has already fallen short of their expected goals (xG) by more than five goals, as per Understat. The issue doesn’t seem to be the creation of goal-scoring opportunities but rather Chelsea’s ability to convert them into goals. With only one win in their first five games, Chelsea’s ability to find the net has come under scrutiny, especially given the opportunities they had against supposedly beatable opponents at the start of the season.

Pochettino acknowledged the challenges Chelsea faces, particularly due to their injury problems. Among Chelsea’s substitutes, only Ben Chilwell had more than three Premier League starts. Nevertheless, there’s an understanding that Chelsea must perform regardless of these circumstances, and they will continue to face questions until they can provide answers that reflect positively in the Premier League standings.

Questions have emerged about why Chelsea didn’t sign another striker during the transfer window. While they acquired Nicolas Jackson before the pre-season, speculation persisted regarding a more established addition until Pochettino admitted in August that a new out-and-out striker wasn’t part of his plans. He explained, “It is easy to say we need another offensive player, but I think we have offensive players, and they need to recover. If you bring in a player that is not fit or needs to adapt to the Premier League, maybe you are going to spend the same time you wait for Broja, or Nkunku, or Carney. Then you are going to create a mess in the squad. That is why we are working really hard to analyze the situation.”

In reality, all the answers Pochettino needs to resolve the goal-scoring issues may already exist within Stamford Bridge. Jackson has demonstrated considerable potential, and Christopher Nkunku was supposed to be Chelsea’s proven addition. In his last two seasons at RB Leipzig, Nkunku scored 58 goals and provided 29 assists in 88 appearances, showcasing his readiness to continue in a similar vein during Chelsea’s pre-season tour of the United States until he suffered an injury against Borussia Dortmund.

Nkunku, a versatile attacker, could operate effectively whether leading the line, playing as a number 10, or from the left flank. Unfortunately, he won’t be available for several months, offering no immediate solution, despite being an ideal answer. Pochettino has had to rely on Jackson, even in moments when a substitution might have been preferred. With Armando Broja yet to return, 18-year-olds Deivid Washington and Ronnie Stutter have been the only alternatives.

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While Broja’s return may help alleviate some of the burden on Jackson in the coming weeks, Pochettino will also need solutions from other areas of the team. While patience is essential, a successful team cannot rely so heavily on a player who has yet to feature this season.

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