I am writing this the day before our quarter-final second leg tie with Manchester United – I am struggling to think of anything but this match, so have decided to channel my attention elsewhere. Because it has not yet been played I do not really know whether this article might be treating your woes with a few consoling thoughts, or adding something else to some very high-spirits. I hope more than anything that it is the latter, but really cannot be sure at this point.
Whatever the result, my mood will be improved by the future prospects of the club. This weekend’s match against Wigan wasn’t great. It was good to win, but that was about it. With Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham all winning, there wasn’t really much to directly cheer about. What was pleasing about this weekend, though, at least from a long-term perspective, were the goal-scoring performances of three Chelsea players currently on loan elsewhere – Fabio Borini, Patrick Van Aanholt and, of course, Daniel Sturridge. All three have been doing well at their adopted clubs, and Saturday marked this more than any other occasion.
Anyone baffled as to why Borini has not been tied-down to the club, and thrust into Chelsea’s first-team this season, may be even more confused now. The young Italian, who scored 12 goals for the reserve team before being shipped out to promotion-chasing Swansea City, has now scored three goals in three games for the Welsh outfit. If Chelsea can agree terms with Borini then he could well be a future star of the club; if not, then we can at least take heart in the fact that the club is producing players like Borini and his Swansea team-mate Scott Sinclair (who has scored 17 goals this season). In my opinion, that on its own is something to be proud of.
Patrick Van Aanholt, who scored for Leicester City in the 4-0 victory over Burnley on Saturday, offers even more promise than Borini, in my view. This may be largely because there seems to be more chance of him remaining at the club for a long spell, but this player really does look an exciting prospect. The prospect of filling the inevitable void that Ashley Cole will create when he retires from football is daunting, but anyone who has seen him play may well feel that Van Aanholt will prove a capable replacement. Whilst he has yet to make a Premier League start, the Dutchman has had three really impressive spells in the Championship. As well as playing a consistent role in the latter stages of Newcastle United’s promotion to the Premier League last season, the 20-year-old is now involved in Leicester’s push for the play-off positions. In the eight games that Van Aanholt has been involved in for Leicester they won five games, earning 17 points, whilst the Foxes were only able to gain three points in the four games where the left-back was absent. It’s not conclusive evidence of Van Aanholt’s brilliance, but it is promising.
Finally comes the story which needs little introduction, but certainly deserves one. After moving to Bolton Wanderers on the January transfer deadline-day, Daniel Sturridge has been absolutely fantastic, and appears to have the capability to have a really successful career with Chelsea. Two days after he arrived, 25 minutes into his debut, with seconds remaining, Sturridge got off to the perfect start by scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory over Wolves at the Reebok Stadium. Prior to his arrival Wanderers had only managed to win one game in seven, and that was against York City. Since Sturridge graced Owen Coyle’s team, they have won four games out of eight, and the Chelsea number-23 has scored six times already.
Maybe Borini will move away in the summer, maybe Van Aanholt will prove not to be suited to the Premier League, but in Daniel Sturridge Chelsea have, in my opinion, one of the brightest striking talents in world football. If you’re not convinced, watch the highlights of Bolton’s 3-0 win over West Ham on Saturday; it is guaranteed to make you smile even if Chelsea’s Champions League dreams have just been extinguished at Old Trafford.