Goals win games, wins equal points and points win prizes. In 2023-24, Chelsea have struggled to tick the first of those boxes, making the second difficult to achieve and the third almost impossible.
Time is still on their side, with there plenty of talk to be found at Stamford Bridge regarding long-term projects, but a return on sizeable investment is demanded in west London.
The Blues may have splashed out £1 billion on a host of fresh faces with one eye locked on the future – while also making regular changes in the dugout – but they need to deliver in the present.
Chelsea playing on a Monday of a Champions League week…
This feels like forever ago pic.twitter.com/CH5dbx7yqB
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 2, 2023
A hugely disappointing 2022-23 campaign left Chelsea without European football on the agenda for just the second time since the turn of the century, with continental competition almost being taken for granted.
An unfortunate dip in collective standards has seen the Blues slip out of favour in betting markets across various sports competitions, with few expecting them to challenge for the Premier League title again any time soon while they are 5/1 for League Cup glory and 8/1 to lift the FA Cup for a ninth time.
Mauricio Pochettino has enough talent at his disposal to ensure that ultimate targets are hit, but putting the pieces of an intricate puzzle into the right places has proved tricky through the opening months of the Argentine’s reign.
Fortunately for him, a number of those who have been stuck on the treatment table will slowly be welcomed back into the fold over the coming weeks.
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in sporting terms, reputations can often be enhanced during an enforced absence – you are seemingly always a better player when unavailable than when up for selection.
That is proving to be the case at present when it comes to Christopher Nkunku, with the France international forward considered by some to be the solution to many of the questions that continue to be asked of Chelsea.
There is, however, every chance that he will not come into contention for a competitive debut until the turn of the year. If that does prove to be the case, then he will feel like a new signing in the January window.
While there is no questioning Nkunku’s potential and pedigree, there are also no guarantees that he will hit the ground running in English football. Given that he remains a Premier League rookie, it is a big ask to expect him to act as some kind of sporting saviour.
Nkunku in Blue. 🤩🔵 pic.twitter.com/0bcEh7wGZy
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) June 23, 2023
Chelsea need somebody – preferably more than one person – to step up and deliver before Nkunku becomes available again.
Pochettino’s squad may be lacking in years of age, but it still boasts plenty of experience in the form of established Premier League stars, veteran internationals, and even World Cup winners.
The goals will come, as will the points, but whether there are enough of them to land prizes remains to be seen. Nkunku will undoubtedly aid the cause once he gets a fitness green light, but he cannot be the only solution to a riddle that remains alarmingly difficult to solve.