Kyle Tapper

What Drogba's Injury Means for Chelsea

Created on Aug. 12, 2014 12:45 AM EST

Defending the near post is a forgotten art. Corner kicks, set pieces and crosses have to surpass the near post in order to find their way to the back of the net. One of Chelsea's most underrated strengths over their last decade of success has been their ability to defend the near post when the ball is thrown into the mixer.

When Drogba featured as Cheslea's number nine, his defensive prowess was equally important to the bunches of goals he put in the net. He successfully ended crossing threats at the front post, allowing the back four to stay organized and springing a fast break which he often converted into goals. When he departed following Chelsea's Champions League winning season, that role fell to Frank Lampard.

With Lampard out of the squad, signing Drogba this summer was not only key to provide depth up top, but also as a defensive substitute to see out games. In their preseason game Sunday, Drogba's game ended after a mere 28 minutes with an apparent ankle injury.

Drogba explained the injury in an interview with Chelsea's Official website:

"I twisted my ankle and I couldn’t continue. In the next few days we are going to do some treatment and I hope everything will be better."

No one expected Drogba to put in a full campaign at prime fitness at his age. However, an early ankle injury can be nagging and hamper his ability to contribute to the squad throughout the season.

Drogba's injury doesn't pose as many questions moving forward as it used to. Diego Costa should feature as the first choice striker with Fernando Torres as the change of pace guy. Drogba was always going to be a third option or defensive substitution. HIs injury does however, raise the question on who will be the late game defensive sub to reinforce the back line on set pieces. It also means an injury to either Costa or Torres could signal tough times for Chelsea's front line.

If Drogba misses an extended amount of time, Chelsea should still rack up plenty of points. It won't take many goals for the Blues to succeed this season as they return the same back four that gave up the fewest goals in the EPL last season. If they can manage to defend set pieces at the near post again, you'll find them at the top of the table to begin the season even without their legend, Didier Drogba.
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