With Chelsea being one of the best teams in Europe, and in-form at that, it is no wonder that it is difficult for the younger players to get, and take, chances to perform in the team. The pressure is really on for the younger players to make an impression when they come onto the field.
This is particularly evident in the attack of the team. After finishing with a record number of Premier League goals last campaign, the Chelsea attack are at it again this season having scored 34 goals in thirteen games so far this season. Living up to these high-standards must be a daunting prospect for the younger attacking-options.
Kakuta and Sturridge have both had chances so far this season and have done reasonably well – especially in the Champions League where Sturridge has a goal and Kakuta has made an assist. The pressure on these two, though, has been cranked up a notch with the displays of, the reserve team captain, Fabio Borini. After scoring all 5 of Chelsea’s goals in a 5-4 win against West Bromwich Albion last week, Borini has now scored seven goals in three reserve appearances this season.
The Italian under-21, who joined Chelsea, after six years at Bologna, in the summer of 2007, is knocking on the first team door again following his recovery from a hernia operation. He impressed during his eight appearances (one start) last season, although he was not nearly as good as he has the ability to be. There is reason to suggest that his first chances may have come a little prematurely; he was only 18 and had only played one full season for the reserves since arriving from Italy.
Borini is still only 19 so shouldn’t feel rushed into a place in the first team squad, or even the bench, just yet. The best thing for Borini may just be to adapt to English football in the reserves and let his first team chances come slowly.
If he achieves his potential at Chelsea then the supporters are sure to experience a flurry of goals from the current number 45. Ignoring last season, where he was unable to score in eight first-team games, his scoring record has been prolific. In his first season he netted eleven times in ten games for the youth team before making eight appearances for the reserves and scoring another four goals. The next season he scored another five goals for the reserves – making him the joint-top goal scorer.
So, he’s got a fantastic scoring-record in the lower Chelsea teams and is absolutely deadly in the penalty-box. Though, as we know, when looking at the likes of Franco di Santo and Ben Sahar, this does not always equate to success at a big club like Chelsea.
Borini’s chances, though, are surely enhanced by, the current manager, Carlo Ancelotti – the manager who has brought the best out of young stars like Alexandre Pato. Ancelotti obviously rates Chelsea’s youthful attacking options, including the ‘very, very, very interesting’ Borini; Carlo has, since arriving, resisted buying any more-experienced attackers – despite the fact that Chelsea were facing a transfer ban and have faced a month without Drogba and Kalou (for the Africa Cup of Nations).
It may seem as though Borini has fallen down the pecking order, but it must be remembered that during his spree of matches Sturridge was not fully fit and Kakuta was banned and then injured. Since then Borini has been recovering from a hernia operation and his chances have been hindered. Now, though, seems an appropriate time, given the fact that he is in such good form for the reserves, for Borini, with a little more age, wisdom and experience, to start trying to make an impact in the first-team again.