Although Chelsea were unlucky not to pick up all three points in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Everton, the result leaves the Blues 16 points shy of runaway league leaders Manchester City, with hopes of retaining their Premier League title already all but extinguished.
And, according to former Blues skipper Dennis Wise, Chelsea’s failures this season can be attributed to one key piece of business: allowing prolific striker Diego Costa to leave Stamford Bridge after a protracted transfer saga.
The 51-year-old, who represented the Blues for over 11 years and is Chelsea’s second-most successful skipper after John Terry, told Sky Sports: “Costa is a horrible centre-forward who nicks goals. He battles and makes defenders make mistakes. That’s what Chelsea miss. Someone like a Costa might have got them a goal [against Everton] and it would have been a different game.”
Wise admitted that the omission of Alvaro Morata may also have played a role in Chelsea’s failure to capitalise on their dominance against the Toffees, but stressed that Chelsea also lack the ability to score goals from the midfield. The Londoner added: “Instead you had three guys, in Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian, who want to come out wide and deep. I look at Kante and Bakayoko – they’re very similar… when can one of them really break into the box and score a goal?”
Looking ahead to the January transfer window – in which Blues manager Antonio Conte has hinted at looking to do business – Wise stated: “Not only do Chelsea need a centre-forward but a goal-scoring central midfield player.”
The former Blues skipper claimed that the club have failed to adequately replace Frank Lampard following his departure two years ago, concluding: “You want to see more goals from your midfield two. That’s what I’d like to see as well as another centre-forward who can get in there and is as good as Morata.”
Next up for Chelsea is a home fixture against Brighton on Boxing Day. With Chris Hughton’s side having picked up just one win in their last five outings, Conte will be desperate for his Blues to get back to winning ways and keep the gap between his charges and second-placed Manchester United at just three points.