You have to think that without the transfer ban, Chelsea would have gone into the market for a new number nine this summer, but manager Frank Lampard will have to make do with the three main striker options at his disposal this season.
At various points during pre-season, Michy Batshuayi, Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham have looked impressive, although it must be said that none of them have made themselves undroppable with their performances.
Batshuayi started the summer very well, following his return from Crystal Palace. He scored in Lampard’s first friendly in the 1-1 draw with Bohemians and linked up well in the subsequent win against St Patrick’s.
However, since then, he has not been given a start, and the fact that he didn’t even feature against Borussia Monchengladbach would be the biggest indication that he won’t be starting against Manchester United on Sunday.
Olivier Giroud is in a slightly different situation. He scored a brace against St Patrick’s and started against Reading. Even so, the 32-year-old is not a natural fit for Lampard’s high energy, high pressing system.
Out of the three contenders, he is the most accomplished finisher and the most experienced, but his lack of mobility will no doubt play against him, and he seems destined to feature once more as a regular substitute rather than as a guaranteed starter.
With two options dismissed, it means Tammy Abraham is the one likeliest to start at Old Trafford. I don’t think you can read too much into the fact that the 21-year-old has started four of the six friendlies. After all, he is the player with the most to prove and Lampard will be keen to see how he fits into his system.
What’s more telling, though, is that the England international did make his case when given the opportunity. He scored against Barcelona with a tidy finish and is a major threat upfront.
There are, still, some big doubts about Abraham. He is not the most consistent finisher and will need more than one chance to score a goal. His link-up needs improvement as well, and he will need to show that he is capable of performing at the highest level in the Premier League.
Without the transfer ban, he may not have been given his chance, but with the limited options available, the indications are that Lampard will offer him a starting berth for a huge game against United. Whether he takes this massive opportunity, we shall have to find out.