Chelsea have spent more than £500m on 17 new players during the past two transfer windows but the lack of a clinical striker was made painfully clear in a 0-0 draw with Fulham on Friday.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Chelsea’s only fit number nine, has been left out of the club’s Champions League squad and did not feature at all against the Cottagers as a number of big-money arrivals made their debuts.
Argentina’s World Cup-winning midfielder Enzo Fernandez, who signed for a British record sum of £107m on deadline day, impressed but that lack of quality in the final third told as Chelsea’s top-four hopes were dealt another blow.
Graham Potter’s side sit ninth in the table, nine points behind fourth-placed Manchester United, having managed just one win in 2023, scoring three goals in their seven games since the turn of the year.
BBC Radio 5 Live pundit Clinton Morrison said he is “surprised” that Chelsea still have no number nine while Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville insisted the club’s owners need to show patience with Potter.
After the draw with Fulham, the Chelsea boss himself pointed to their opponents as a sign of what a side can become when they are given time to develop.
“Fulham have been together a while,” he told BBC Sport. “We’re at a different stage of that – players coming back from injury and new players.
“We need time to settle everything down. We were missing the connection, fluidity and confidence that comes from knowing each other.”