Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Drogba Loss Is a Blow for Scolari's Forward Thinking; Grounded: Didier Drogba (Left) Suffers a New Injury to His Right Knee after His Challenge with Cluj Defender Andres De Souza and He Is Stretchered off (below). John Terry (Top) Leaves the Pitch Looking Downhearted Following the Scoreless Draw in Romania

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Drogba Loss Is a Blow for Scolari's Forward Thinking; Grounded: Didier Drogba (Left) Suffers a New Injury to His Right Knee after His Challenge with Cluj Defender Andres De Souza and He Is Stretchered off (below). John Terry (Top) Leaves the Pitch Looking Downhearted Following the Scoreless Draw in Romania

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse

CFR Cluji 0 Chelsea 0

NEVER in their wildest dreams did Chelsea imagine they would find themselves in a similar predicament to Tottenham this week.

But after Didier Drogba sustained suspected ligament damage to his right knee against Cluj last night, which is likely to keep him out for at least six weeks, Luiz Felipe Scolari finds himself just as short of attacking options as his Spurs counterpart Juande Ramos.

Drogba was playing only his fifth game after recovering from an operation on his other knee, but when he hit the turf in obvious pain in the 56th minute after he and Cluj's Brazilian defender Andres De Souza had contested Florent Malouda's left-wing cross, Chelsea's future suddenly became more complicated.

Assuming his players suffer no more bad luck, Scolari will prepare for Sunday's home game against Aston Villa in the Premier League with just two senior forwards, Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou, and an untested youngster, Franco Di Santo, available.

It is a scenario which makes bottomof-the-table Tottenham, who have only Darren Bent, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Fraizer Campbell in their forward line, appear positively brimming with attacking talent.

Scolari will point to his preference for a lone striker, supported by two attackminded midfielders and two wide men, as proof he can cope without Drogba.

But as Drogba and Anelka are the only players capable of leading the attack, it means the Frenchman can look forward to an extremely heavy work load over the next three months.

When Scolari compares his striking choices with those of Manchester United and Arsenal, it will make the Brazilian even more concerned. Sir Alex Ferguson can rotate Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov, while Arsene Wenger is able to deploy Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie, Carlos Vela and Nicklas Bendtner.

And this after Scolari had said last week that he expected "five or six" key players to play in every game as part of his desire for glory on four fronts. Given Chelsea's fitness situation the Blues could be without as many as eight firstteam players for the Villa clash Scolari is likely to have to do a head count before his side's next few matches.

It may seem harsh to question Scolari's judgement but with only Drogba, Anelka and Kalou on the books, it is surprising that the Brazilian decided not to sign another centre-forward when the transfer window was open in August.

Even without Deco, Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Essien, Joe Cole and Ashley Cole due to injury, Chelsea were expected to beat a Cluj team playing in only their second match in the Champions League.

But the Blues must have feared it wasn't going to be their night when the people in charge of the pre-match play list at the Dr Constantin Radulescu Stadium bizarrely decided to blast out "Glory, Glory Man United", as well as other songs in praise of Sir Alex's 1999 Treblewinning side, over the speakers. …

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