The look on Fernando Torres’ face as he took his seat on the Chelsea substitutes bench before kick-off against Stoke City on Saturday afternoon said it all.
New boy, Demba Ba, who joined the club for just 14% of Torres’ transfer fee a week ago, was given the nod for a second time in three games and proved a competent lone striker against two of the Premier League’s toughest and most robust centre-halves.
Granted, Ba did not score but that does not matter: he did his job, was instrumental in Chelsea’s forward plays and looked a constant threat up front.
Indeed, he may not have found the net but his ability to hold the ball up, distribute to an oncoming midfield, and get into space in the box proved just what an asset Rafael Benitez now has in his arsenal.
Chelsea have lacked someone of Ba’s stature and physical presence since Didier Drogba left in the summer and have struggled because of it – and we all know how good he was.
Benitez was brought in to try to inspire more out of Torres but that effort has not really paid off – the striker has not scored in five games since Christmas. Chelsea have no other recognised striker after selling Daniel Sturridge and so Ba’s arrival is pivotal to their efforts to get back into the title race.
All this means that when Benitez brings in a £7m signing and immediately feels the benefit in his two-goal debut against Southampton, it is clear the boss will start that new arrival for the next couple of games. Torres looked furious on the bench but there is no real way he can complain if his new strike partner continually puts in good performances.