Chelsea will win league -- but only if they can sign world-class striker
If Jose Mourinho has got serious aspirations of winning his third Premier League title, he needs to persuade Roman Abramovich to sign him a world-class striker in the January transfer window.
Mourinho's Chelsea are bang in the mix and produced their best performance of the season against Liverpool but once again their lack of a goalscorer was blatantly obvious and it could come back to haunt them. If he had a Luis Suarez, a Robin van Persie or a Sergio Aguero, Mourinho would have a far better chance of winning the league yet he cannot decide who to play at the moment because he changes it every week.
When you compare Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba to the rest of the top strikers in the Premier League they are way down the list. Edin Dzeko has got an unbelievable strike rate but is third-choice at Manchester City -- how Mourinho would love to have a problem like that.
Every week is a toss-up over who he is going to pick and there is not one forward there that he can say: 'If I'm going to bet my life on anyone it's going to be him'. One week it is Eto'o, the next week it is Torres. There is no consistency, they do not score enough goals, and it must be driving him mad.
There are no bad strikers among them but there is not a great one. Chelsea's best centre-forward is Romelu Lukaku, who was sent out on loan to Everton, another decision that might come back to haunt Mourinho.
Mourinho must bring someone in next month to make them even stronger. There is clearly a question of who they could go for in January and how they would fit into the team but Mourinho has got the solid foundations now and just needs a forward to finish it all off.
Whether he can get somebody or not will be the line between winning the title or missing out. He is clearly frustrated that games are not being won convincingly and against Liverpool he was looking stressed in the final minutes.
It has been a problem for most of the season. Against Stoke, they should have been 3-0 up by half-time but the strikers clearly are not firing and that one was three points lost. It is testimony to the squad Chelsea have got that even without a goalscorer you would consider them, with Manchester City and Arsenal, the main title contenders.
They have not really hit the dizzy heights but are still right in contention. Against Liverpool, for the first time this season, we saw what they can do. They proved they are here to stay -- and indeed that they have never gone away.
Chelsea have had a lot of criticism for the way they played at Manchester United and Arsenal. In both games they shut up shop and there was very little football, very few chances, and everybody blamed Chelsea. But the onus is always on the home team to come out and attack. The fact they did not shows the respect everybody has for Chelsea.
They have been called boring and methodical but how can that be true when you have got players as talented as Eden Hazard and Oscar in the team?
Liverpool came to Stamford Bridge and attacked, which allowed Chelsea to show everyone what they are capable of. They played exceptionally well in the first half, with a lot of pace, control and creativity and could be a formidable force. But they just lacked that cutting edge .
The win over Liverpool keeps them right up there but it could easily have been only a point. The decision from Howard Webb at the end simply beggars belief.
Chelsea had rode their luck in the last 25 minutes and it was a massive decision from Webb when Eto'o caught Suarez in the area. It was a stonewall penalty and it is not even a debate. He got it wrong, he has seen it and pointed at it so I don't know what he was thinking. That is two bad decisions Brendan Rodgers has had to contend with in the last two games, but Liverpool have proven against Manchester City and Chelsea that they will challenge for a top-four place.
Conceding four goals in two games is too many but there cannot be any doom and gloom. They have still got some work to do to catch Chelsea but at least they have got Suarez, even though he was not at his best. It is impossible to maintain the remarkable standards he has set over the last few months.
Chelsea and Mourinho would love to have a striker like Suarez in their team -- and that is something the Portuguese has got to remedy in the next few weeks or it could prove costly. (© Daily Telegraph, London)