Chelsea have plenty of actual problems – cut Nicolas Jackson some slack and give him his flowers

FROM STAMFORD BRIDGE – Chelsea have done little to earn kudos in the Todd Boehly and BlueCo era.

The Blues have plummeted out of title contention and are now jockeying for position in a scrambled and frenzied mid-table pack. Their transfer expenditure has surpassed £1bn in two years but the squad desperately lacks the quality of their European-champion tag from 2021.

Amid the questionable buys and inflated fees, there have been a few smarter purchases. Bringing in Malo Gusto from Lyon for an initial £26m to cover for the perennially injured Reece James looks wiser by the day. They may have overpaid for £40m Cole Palmer in the moment but he certainly appears to be paying that sum back with each passing game.

And then there’s Nicolas Jackson, brought in from Villarreal for £32m. He was the only senior striker Chelsea signed last summer when it was evident this position was most in need of upgrading, particularly as Kai Havertz was sold to Arsenal – the Blues scored only 38 goals in 38 Premier League games last season.

A lot of expectation was immediately placed on Jackson’s shoulders. He was the one promised to solve their scoring woes right from the off and mature a lot quicker than his youth required. Last January, Jackson was denied a move to mid-table Bournemouth only by failing a medical, and all of a sudden he was in the spotlight for one of the world’s biggest clubs. It’s quite a change of pace that shouldn’t be underestimated.

After Jackson missed a few glaring chances in Chelsea blue, the knives were quickly out. He was a donkey, another flop of the regime, a reason they wouldn’t amount to anything.

And yet here he is now. Thirty-two million down the drain, Nicolas Jackson scores again.

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You can have that for free, Chelsea fans. No need to thank me.

Jackson grabbed the opener in Monday night’s 3-2 win at home to Newcastle United. Cole Palmer’s initial drive from the edge of the box generated little power upon rolling into the Senegalese, who managed to divert it away from goalkeeper Martin Dubravka with a delicate flick of the ankle.

It wasn’t just that side of Jackson’s ever-improving game that was on display. He created Chelsea’s third goal of the evening with a powerful run at full tilt through the vacating Newcastle half, with play switching to Conor Gallagher before Mykhailo Mudryk provided the gloss. Palmer was named player of the match, but Jackson would have been a close second.

His latest goal took Jackson to 12 in 31 matches across all competitions this season, including nine in 24 Premier League games. The only fixtures he’s missed at club level have been through suspension or international duty with Senegal, despite his failed Bournemouth medical and amid Chelsea’s injury crisis. He’s still only 22.

There is an innate usefulness in everything Jackson does, even his most frustrating of traits. His bad games are those in which he doesn’t score glorious openings, but he never goes missing or hiding. He’s guilty of not holding his runs, but his pace stretches play and panics defenders. Even if Chelsea buy another striker, he could play out wide. You can see similarities between Jackson and Darwin Nunez, who is now rounding out and becoming a key player for a team contending for the Premier League title.

Chelsea’s problems are largely on an institutional level and there remain doubts over whether Boehly’s project will ever come to fruition. Jackson is providing them some needed solutions in the meantime.

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