Didier Drogba has been back to his best this season. I don’t think too many people would argue with that. He has scored 13 goals in the league alone and has been influential in Chelsea’s rise to the top of the table.
However, Carlo Ancelotti will have to attempt to cope without his star striker next month as he competes in the African Cup of Nations. The tournament begins on the 10th January and if Ivory Coast progress until the latter stages, Drogba won’t be back for Chelsea until the game with Arsenal on February 7th 2010.
This means he will miss four Premier League games during a crucial time in the season, so the question has to be asked – can Ancelotti’s men maintain their decent form and remain top of the league while Drogba is away or will his absence dent Chelsea’s Premier League chances?
Nicolas Anelka certainly thinks the team can push on and he says that he will do his ‘very best to score the goals’ in his strike partner’s absence. The Frenchman then pointed out that Chelsea coped without Drogba earlier in the season when most people expected them ‘to falter’.
The team is united at the moment and Anelka clearly thinks that this will be the case next month too. Chelsea are far from a one man team and despite the fact that it is ‘better when Didier is here’, the whole squad want to ‘win the Premier League’ and will be doing all they can to ensure this bid isn’t hampered come February.
Anelka is right not to worry too much about Drogba’s absence. Chelsea have an excellent squad and they should be built to cope without their main man from time to time. Like many teams would, they will miss their most prolific striker, but it should just be an opportunity for others to step up their game.
The fact that the four Premier League games Drogba will miss are against Hull, Sunderland, Birmingham and Burnley should help matters too. No games are easy of course, but it is better that he isn’t missing one of the games against a fellow big four side as this is when he seems to be most effective.
As for Ancelotti, well he is already planning for the absence of Drogba. He says that he will revert to a one-striker formation with Joe Cole and Deco to provide support for Anelka. Hardly the worst option is it? The manager seems to know his own mind and Chelsea won’t take a Premier League gamble when it comes to selection.
It should certainly be enough to help Chelsea pick up the points to ensure they are still top of the league when Drogba returns from his international duties.