Graham Potter refused to blame bad luck for Chelsea’s struggles in front of goal despite seeing his team score just twice in their last five matches.
The Blues fell to a 1-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday with a host of chances going begging at Signal Iduna Park.
Only Crystal Palace in the Premier League’s top 12 have scored fewer goals than Potter’s side, with the lack of a recognised striker again made achingly clear as they drew a blank in Germany, their seventh scoreless outing in 12 games.
New signings Joao Felix and Mykhailo Mudryk linked up well in what was a fluid attacking display, but a cutting edge remained conspicuously absent, with the ineligible Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang not in the squad and Kai Havertz continuing in his role as makeshift number nine.
“We can always do more, and do better,” said Potter ahead of the visit of the Premier League’s bottom side Southampton to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
“But at the same time you have to look at the situation for what it is, put it in the context that it’s in.
“In terms of how the group is working, it’s positive. I thought the Dortmund performance away from home, given the context of the competition and the opponent and the environment, was another step forward.
Chelsea’s failure to add a striker to their impressive cavalry of creative players in January has placed added pressure on the new recruits to step up in terms of goalscoring.
Loan-signing Felix netted his first goal for the club in the 1-1 draw against West Ham at the London Stadium last Saturday, and came closest to scoring in Dortmund, hitting the crossbar and blasting over from Hakim Ziyech’s clever pullback.
Prior to that, Havertz was the last player to score for Chelsea when he headed the winning goal against Crystal Palace on January 15, the team’s only victory since December.
“It was closer against Dortmund, good in the first part of the game against West Ham, but the challenge is to do it over 90 minutes. It’s not as simple as that of course, because it’s the Premier League and there’s an opponent there.
“Joao hit the bar, it was unlucky. He has a good chance before then that you would think, with his quality, he would score. Sometimes that happens in football. The hardest thing to do is put the ball in (the goal).
“Previously to that I’d like us to create more chances. The more you do, then you just back the quality of the player at the top end of the pitch. The final third is an area where we need to improve.”