Ba & Torres: Will it work?

Newcastle United v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League

Reports suggest that last night, Chelsea triggered the £7.5m release clause for Newcastle striker, Demba Ba. With Daniel Sturridge on his way to Liverpool, Benitez has identified the Senegalese hitman as his preferred transfer target. He’s already scored 13 goals in the premier league this season, and could prove to be an effective partner up-front for Fernando Torres. Micheal Cox from the Guardian, explores Ba’s credentials and how it could have an impact on Chelsea’s tactics over the coming weeks.

Ba will surely replace Torres at times, but his ability to play on the left has prompted speculation they can play in the same team. However, the more you consider the history of the two individuals, the harder it is to understand why Benítez would start both players together.

Despite Alan Pardew playing him on the left following Papiss Cissé’s arrival last year, Ba dislikes playing wide. He complained about becoming marginalised and insisted on a return to centre-forward this season, and he was not the most responsible wide player. “I have never really liked defending, chasing people,” he admits.

Ba partnering Torres up front is not impossible, but Benítez is unlikely to stray from his favoured 4-2-3-1 regularly. Besides, neither striker specialises alongside another in a 4-4-2. Ba and Cissé failed to strike up a partnership for Newcastle despite experience together for Senegal.

Politically, it will be easier for Benítez to favour Torres. Yet Ba has scored 36 goals in 66 matches since his move to the Premier League two years ago – Torres has scored just 14 in 65 during that period, despite playing alongside more creative team-mates.

The problem with relying upon the Spaniard for goals is evident and when the potential for injuries is taken into account, it is incredible that Torres is Chelsea’s only ever-present outfielder this season. He regularly suffered niggling injuries at Liverpool, and at his best, depends upon bursts of incredible acceleration – an attribute Benítez always mentions when explaining his preference for resting players as part of a squad rotation policy.

Benítez will rotate, but it will be fascinating to see his selection decisions for Chelsea’s big games.

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