Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic has hit back at critics claiming the Blues’ current strike-force is not up to scratch.
Jose Mourinho’s side currently sit second in the Premier League table, hot on the heels of leaders Liverpool with six matches of the season remaining.
But while the Reds’ deadly duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have bagged an astonishing 49 league goals between them in 2013/14, Chelsea’s top-scoring striker, 33-year-old Samuel Eto’o, has netted just eight.
With fellow front-men Fernando Torres and Demba Ba providing a further seven combined, it has been left to the London club’s attacking midfield flair of Eden Hazard (14), Oscar (8) and Andre Schurrle (7) to pick up the slack and keep Chelsea in contention for a fourth Premier League crown and first since 2010.
CHELSEA'S TOP LEAGUE SCORERS
- Eden Hazard 14
- Samuel Eto'o 8
- Oscar 8
- Andre Schurrle 7
- Frank Lampard 5
- Fernando Torres 4
- Demba Ba 3
- Branislav Ivanovic 3
- John Terry 2
- Willian 2
Mourinho made headlines in February after being caught on camera saying he had “a team but no striker” and that Eto’o “is 32, maybe even 35, I don’t know!”
However, Matic, who returned to Stamford Bridge in January after a three-year stint at Benfica, has backed the striking options currently at the club’s disposal.
“[Mourinho’s comment] was just a joke. He knows Eto’o better than anyone and knows he is an important player for us,” he says in the May 2014 issue of FourFourTwo.
"You saw the celebration [when Eto'o pretended to be an old man after scoring against Tottenham] - it's just a joke.
"People who say Chelsea don't have any good strikers don't know anything about football, that's my opinion.
"We have three very good strikers: Eto'o, Torres, Demba Ba. People who say this cannot have watched football.
“We have a lot of good players at Chelsea - Oscar and Willian, too, for example. We are strong in all positions, and this is why it is so good to be part of this team.”
The £21 million man from Serbia reserved special praise for Belgium winger Hazard, who has set up seven league goals this season on top of bagging 14 himself.
"Eden is a great player, and very important for us,” says Matic. “In any moment he can do something good for the team - he can score, he can assist. He has the quality to become one of the best in the world.”
Read the full interview with Matic in the May 2014 issue of FourFourTwo, available in print and specially-designed-for-iPad. The edition also features exclusive interviews with Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, Zenit star Hulk and Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler, and reveals the top 50 players in the Football League.