It didn't take long for Loic Remy to make his mark against Hull City at the KC Stadium on Sunday. A mere 90 seconds after replacing Diego Costa, the Frenchman struck the winner to give Chelsea an important three points in their quest for a first Premier League crown since 2010.
Despite Remy's decisive contribution against Steve Bruce's side, he is unlikely to usurp Costa as the chief provider of goals at Stamford Bridge anytime soon. The harsh reality for Remy is that he is a victim of Jose Mourinho's preferred 4-2-3-1 system (not to mention Costa's seamless transition to Premier League football).
It triggered memories of last season's Champions League quarter-final, when Demba Ba popped up with a last-gasp goal against PSG to send Chelsea through. It was a massive goal in the context of their season - despite being eliminated in the next round by Atletico Madrid - but even with his European heroics, the Senegalese striker was unable to push himself into the forefront of Mourinho's thinking. There is a distinct feeling of deja vu with Remy, who is fighting a losing battle at a critical juncture in his career. When Costa was bought, Ba was told to find another club. Finding pastures new may be an advised path for Remy to embark upon as well.
After the game, the former QPR and Newcastle United striker admitted to feeling frustrated to the club's official website. "It is frustrating sitting on the bench, but the manager knows all the team and he has very good quality in the squad," Remy told the Chelsea website. "That is why when I came on I just played with my quality. Scoring goals is my job as a striker but I know there are only 11 players on the pitch and as soon the manager needs me I am here.
The 28-year-old was admirably restrained in voicing his frustrations, but the truth is that he is too good a player to just be a benchwarmer for Chelsea; Remy needs to play. He has proven himself as a clinical force up front during his time in England - especially during last season's loan at Newcastle where he scored 14 goals in 27 appearances - and his four league goals at Chelsea is reasonably impressive given his extremely limited opportunities in the first-team this season.
Remy has proven his worth to Mourinho from the very outset of his fledgling Blues career, registering a debut goals nine minutes after coming on as a 72nd minute substitute in the 4-2 win over Swansea City. Remy's goal was tremendously well taken, lashing home a perfectly executed right-foot effort after being teed up by Oscar. However, the column inches were understandably dedicated to Costa after bagging a first treble in English football against the Welsh side. Remy got his Chelsea career off and running but there was little notice taken.
Then, when Costa was suspended for the top-of-the-table showdown with Manchester City in January, Remy stepped in to lead the line. He opened the scoring in the 1-1 draw, helping his side maintain a five-point lead at the Premier League's summit. However, the Frenchman did not start the next game away to Aston Villa, dropping to the bench as the 36-year-old Didier Drogba was preferred to spearhead the attack.
Remy did start against Everton at home and, admittedly, was far from his best. But he has not started since that game on February 11 and although he may get a prolonged spell in the line-up, depending on the severity of Costa's injury, Remy is unlikely to overhaul the Spaniard and wholly gain the trust and confidence of Mourinho.
The irony is not lost that Remy inherited the number 18 shirt, previously worn by Romelu Lukaku. Despite his obvious talent and potential, Mourinho did not view the Belgian powerhouse as an essential part of his future plans and was happy to let him go. Mourinho claimed that Lukaku was not willing to fight for his place at Stamford Bridge and although Remy's departure may not be mired in such acrimonious circumstances, one fears that he faces the inevitable consequence of looking for pastures new.
The Frenchman is certainly good enough to be a first-choice striker at a Premier League team. However, he faces a losing battle in displacing Costa as the focal point in the Chelsea attack. Signing for the Blues may not have been the wisest move in retrospect; let's hope his next one is a more profitable venture.
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