Pat Nevin: Look no further

With two mouth-watering games to come this week, Chelsea legend Pat Nevin considers those and the men up front in this week’s column…

 

There could scarcely be a more newsworthy week regarding Chelsea centre-forwards.

Chelsea agree terms with Atletico Madrid for the transfer of Diego Costa. Alvaro Morata, his replacement, scores a hat-trick against Stoke City to make it six strikes in six Premier League games, and making sure he is not left out of the conversation, Michy Batshuayi scores a tidy hat-trick as well against Nottingham Forest.

Diego can’t be ignored because of the effect he had on the team and the club in his time here. Like many, I adored his combative style at least as much as his skill and his goals. The temperament may have been tempestuous but there was never a dull moment when he was around. That can of course have its positive and negative ramifications. He will be fondly remembered as one of a kind, a dying breed of warrior striker who home fans adored and opponents loved to hate, even though they knew fine well they would have loved to have him in their own teams.

I just wonder if he will be pictured at the upcoming Atletico v Chelsea game and if so, whose scarf will he wear? If ever there was a pretty good excuse to wear a half-and half-scarf then he certainly has it for this one. We wish him the best of course unless for an occasion he plays against us at some time in the future, and whatever happens I have a suspicion we will all keep an eye on the rest of his career. 

Still there are no rivers of tears because our other two strikers haven’t exactly been struggling to score goals this week as previously mentioned. Michy has an incredible knack of putting the ball in the net when there is a goal in the vague vicinity, even if some of his play isn’t as pleasing on the eye as Alvaro’s, but then which centre-forward is as pleasant to watch as the former Real Madrid man?

He is almost perfect in his technique as a striker and I make no apology for going on about it. If you are a young kid wanting to play that position, do not look any further than him if you want to know exactly the right times and places to move to. If you want to learn how to hold up the ball, link up play, know how to go long then short to get involved, or the precise opposite to lose a marker, he is your man. 

Each game Morata plays is a ready-made template for a finishing school for young finishers.

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I have been fortunate to see all three of the top teams in the Premier League in the flesh in the last week or so. At Watford, Manchester City were sparkling with Sergio Aguero a pure joy to watch and I was down on the south coast this weekend where Man United beat Southampton. In short, Chelsea are not really behind United at all other than the two points in the league, and as for City, brilliant as they have been, the game next Saturday could well be the game of the season so far with no obvious favourite to win.

The figures for September are very impressive for both sides. City have a combined score of 22-1 in their five fixtures while the Blues are a mere 17-2 ahead in our five games. In some ways, it all seems like preparation for the four days to come.

The Atletico game tomorrow should be of real quality as well; although I don’t think their fans like the word ‘Real’ in the same sentence as their name if at all possible. The good news for them is that they are well ahead of their city rivals in La Liga, much to everyone’s surprise. There are of course the likes of Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann in the squad, but it is loaded with quality throughout so maybe it should be no surprise they are still unbeaten this season to date.

It is another classic case of Chelsea going abroad and hoping to come back unbeaten themselves, anything more than a draw in this game would be a huge bonus, which is not to say Antonio will not be scheming for just that.

Whatever the outcomes it is a week with two massive games to savour in a month that has already been a feast.