Chelsea's season continues to spiral downward, and you can pick your own poison when it comes to describing their plight. Winless in five games. Out of both domestic cups, 10 points away from a top-four finish in the league, beaten in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie by Borussia Dortmund. Two wins in their past 14 in all competitions. Two wins in the Premier League since Oct. 16.
Whichever way you slice it, it's not good. And while there may be a gaggle of reasons put forward -- some valid, some less so -- ranging from injuries to a poorly assorted side in the summer, from Graham Potter's lack of a preseason training camp to Potter's lack of experience at this level to whether Potter is even any good at all, I'd like to focus on one that comes up time and again. Namely, Chelsea's lack of a "proven center-forward."
There's a certain kind of fan and pundit that loves categorizing players and as fate would have it, the man who was played up front for Chelsea the most this season, Kai Havertz, isn't considered a "proven center-forward." Or a "natural striker." Or a "true 9," or whatever lingo you like to use. And so whenever Chelsea create chances but fail to convert them -- which has happened in each of their past five games, when they racked up an expected goals of 7.05 but ended up scoring just one single goal -- the issue becomes about Havertz and how he's a center-forward.
There are two points to make here. The first is that Chelsea don't seem particularly fussed. And the other is that maybe they're right not to be fussed.
We know Chelsea aren't particularly fussed by the choices they've made. They went into the season with two "true 9s" in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Armando Broja. Aubameyang hasn't started a league game since before the World Cup, while Broja has been injured since mid-November. They did pick up David Datro Fofana from Molde, who is a legitimate striker, in January, but he only turned twenty in December and has just one season of Norwegian league football under his belt as a starter, which suggests he's a Plan B (or C) at best.
Which leaves, well, Havertz. Could they be plotting some ambitious raid on a brand-name center-forward in the summer like Napoli's Victor Osimhen or Dusan Vlahovic from Juventus? Maybe, though having already spent big in the last two windows, the vibe from Stamford Bridge is they won't. Plus, they invested heavily on Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, who will join them next season.