When taking into account the calibre of striking talent that Chelsea have had on their books in recent times, the art of hitting the back of the net should have been made to look so difficult. The Blues have rarely been short on goals as a collective, but those who are in the team specifically to provide the end product in the final third have not always lived up to expectations.

Big money has been invested in that department, but little return has been offered by supposedly international-class performers that proved elsewhere that they do know where the back of the net is. A new low was hit in 2022-23, with three different managers failing to get a tune out of the attacking orchestra at Stamford Bridge. Just 38 goals were recorded in as many Premier League fixtures. Said struggles contributed significantly to the Blues limping their way to a 12th-place finish, with European qualification falling a long way out of reach.

Mauricio Pochettino has been drafted in as coach – with prior experience of life in England from spells at Southampton and Tottenham – and charged with the task of delivering a reversal in fortune. Pochettino was considered to be the pick of available bosses, following much consideration, but clearly has a sizeable task on his hands in west London.


There’s no magic wand to wave at Chelsea, having become stuck in a serious rut, and the betting operators in the UK aren’t convinced that a corner will be turned. The Blues are priced at 13/10 by Bzeebet to finish above Liverpool next term, while Spread Ex Sports have them at 13/8 for a top-four finish and 1/2 to end up inside the top six.

When it comes to goal scoring, Luckster prices the 2021 Champions League winners at 149/10 to better the output of every divisional rival in the English top tier. That isn’t a chart that the Blues have grown accustomed to topping down the years. Efforts are, however, been made to ensure that there is plenty of firepower at Pochettino’s disposal – with it possible that the most famous of striking jerseys will once again come up for grabs this summer.

The No.9 shirt is synonymous with fearsome frontmen, but it has weighed heavy on many at the Bridge. Thomas Tuchel said of that shirt during his tenure: “It’s cursed, it’s cursed, people tell me it’s cursed. There was not a big demand for No 9. Players sometimes want to change numbers but, surprisingly, nobody wants to touch it.”

That stance isn’t all that surprising given how those filling said spot in the Chelsea squad have fared of late. From Chris Sutton to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang via Mateja Kezman, Franco Di Santo, Fernando Torres, Radamel Falcao, Alvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain and Romelu Lukaku, the No.9 shirt has not been kind to its many inhabitants.


Maybe there’s substance to the ‘curse’ talk, with there clearly something holding Chelsea back. To have such pedigree at your disposal and do relatively little with is as frustrating as it’s confusing. None of those mentioned above was able to reach the fabled 20-goal mark in Premier League competition when donning a famous blue kit. In fact, nobody has hit that target in the last six seasons – why really is far too long?

Enigmatic Spain international Diego Costa, who has since admitted that he was “wrong going to Chelsea”, was the last man to reach 20 efforts in the English top flight. He did so back in the 2016-17 campaign – a season in which Antonio Conte delivered the club’s last Premier League title.

Proven performers have come and gone since then, with an eye-watering amount of money spent, but nobody has been able to perform at the level that’s expected from those charged with the task of leading any given line. Will that situation change any time soon? More funds are being thrown at the most glaring of problems, but that approach has backfired before – on several occasions.

Chelsea is looking for another Costa, another Didier Drogba, even another Frank Lampard to hit 20 goals from a deep-lying berth, but whether they can tick that box and whether anybody wants to take on the No.9 shirt – remains to be seen.