Chelsea winter evaluation: One striker remains standing

Chelsea really only has one trusted and serviceable striker this season. He will be a starter going forward which makes backups tricky.

The striker in a Frank Lampard system needs to have all the tools of every type of striker. They need to be able to poach in the box as well as be the target man to flick things on to others. They need to be willing to drop deep and assist buildup just as often as they peel off the shoulder of a defender. It is a tough job and thus far, only one player has succeeded enough to earn real minutes this season (and next).

Tammy Abraham, England

It was now or never for Abraham. He had done it at Bristol City, flopped at Swansea (though that tends to happen when a team sells their only real playmaker at the last second), and then found himself again at Aston Villa. He seemingly only stayed because Frank Lampard offered him what he offered every young player: a chance to prove themselves.

Abraham grabbed at that chance and did not let go. His evolution at Aston Villa perfectly molded him into the ideal Lampard striker. As mentioned earlier, he can do it all and that is what the team needs.

There is still much Abraham can improve on, but he is certainly much more polished than was to be expected. Whatever brief chance Michy Batshuayi or Oliver Giroud had to when the starting spot was obliterated by Abraham.

Rumors point to Chelsea getting a new striker, but that will be to supplement Abraham. The kid is here to stay for the long haul.

Performance so far: Abraham has been ever excellent in ways the casual viewer may not notice. Fatigue is setting in, but with no other option, Abraham will continue to play and run himself into the ground for Chelsea.

Will he return next season: Without a doubt and he will return as a starter. Any new striker will either have to share the pitch or take their place on the bench until Abraham needs a rest.

Related Story: Chelsea winter evaluation: Attacking mids well set for the future

Michy Batshuayi, Belgium

Maybe this was supposed to be Batshuayi’s year. He did well at Dortmund and Crystal Palace when given the chance. But for whatever reason, he simply cannot do it at Chelsea.

Abraham locking down the starting role so quickly and totally did not help Batshuayi’s case, but then again, neither did Batshuayi. While he is able to rack up goals from the bench and in cup starts, he just never really looks like the kind of striker Chelsea should have leading the line.

Again, it has worked elsewhere. Batshuayi would hardly be the first player to put it together everywhere but one particular club. But because that club is Chelsea, the Blues have less and less reason to continue trying to make it work with the Belgian.

With striker seemingly being one of the top targets, Batshuayi appears to be top of the chopping block to make way for anyone incoming.

Performance so far: On paper, Batshuayi is a fantastic player. The eye test never matches up however and a goal seems more of a surprise than an expectation most days.

Will he return next season: If he is okay with the sparse amount of minutes he has traditionally gotten at Chelsea, then yes he will return. Otherwise, there is no real reason to keep trying to make it work.

Olivier Giroud, France

Giroud can do almost everything Lampard wants a striker to do. He just cannot do it with the intensity required by the new tactics. That saw Giroud fall down the pecking order before simply falling off of it entirely.

Giroud is still a good player for the right team, but it says a lot that he has fallen behind Batshuayi. The move that never came in January likely played into that, but it began long before then.

If Giroud misses the Euros (which seems unlikely, but could happen), he will have to blame this season for it. Lampard simply never found a role for him and the transfer numbers never lined up in January. It is harsh on a player that really has done well for the club, but it really is not anyone’s fault directly.

Wherever Giroud is next season, he will surely win the fans over quickly like he did at Chelsea. He is good, just not what the Blues need anymore.

Performance so far: Giroud was never a good fit for the tactics employed if only because his legs would not carry him quickly enough. It is still odd he has played so little but he has not exactly lit the field afire when he has.

Will he return next season: No. He was set to leave in January and it fell through. It will not fall through again as Giroud leaves on a free.

Next: Chelsea winter evaluation: Wingers past and future

How would you evaluate the strikers so far? Who do you think will return? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!

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