Chelsea start to show their creative side

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The Independent Football

Didier Drogba has vowed to score the goals for Chelsea to justify his huge transfer fee insisting: "You have seen nothing like the best of me yet."

The £24m Ivory Coast striker opened his goal account in the Premiership with a classic header in yesterday's 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.

Last season he scored nine goals in Marseille's run to the final of the Uefa Cup and more than tripled his transfer market value. He said: "The fans and the team can expect a lot more from me.

"I am not physically at my best yet and still need a bit of time to improve my sharpness. I am keeping my fingers crossed that when I'm settled and ready I will take a few more of the opportunities that I get.

"You need to score as a striker but I can help the team in other ways and I feel I am fitting in well in the Premiership. I love playing here and the team has played well in the first three games."

Drogba, who limped off 15 minutes from time, is having ice treatment on some heavy bruising on his ankle and is hopeful he will be fit to keep his 100 per cent starting record in manager Jose Mourinho's line-up at home to Southampton on Saturday.

But Mourinho, who did a Claudio Ranieri and made five changes to a winning team at Palace, offers no guarantees, and declined to explain himself after a comfortable win.

Coach Steve Clarke said: "He [Drogba] showed tonight that if we get quality crosses into the box then he is going to be a threat. We are very hopeful it [ankle injury] is just bruising and it will settle down in a couple of days.

"The quicker Didier got his first league goal for the club the better and it is nice that he has got one, Eidur [Gudjohnsen] has one and hopefully we can get one for [Mateja] Kezman on Saturday."

Chelsea are clearly now intent on producing the attacking form to go with the defensive strengths which Mourinho has introduced. The single goal successes against Manchester United and Birmingham brought accusations of negativity from the critics and a few stinging replies by the manager.

"He is staying quiet for a while," revealed Clarke. "He is thinking maybe he's said enough for now."

Mourinho showed a glimpse of Chelsea's more creative abilities at Selhurst Park. And Tiago, the Portuguese midfielder he signed from Benfica, on his full debut, shone brighter than anyone and wrapped up the points with a well taken goal.

"In his first start for the club he was part of a very good midfield with Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele," said Clarke. "They controlled it and Tiago showed that not only is he a very good defensive midfielder who can win tackles and stick his head on the ball, he can create going forward as well. His goal was a nice finish."

With the gifted Joe Cole cutting in from the left to supplement the front two, and Kezman also making his first start, Mourinho faces the dilemma of whether to provide dedicated wing service for strikers who clearly relish aerial combat.

The Dutch winger Arjen Robben is still out with a hairline fracture of an ankle but the manager may now feel the time is right for £17m Damien Duff to be unleashed.

Clarke said: "I think as the season goes on both those players will be involved which will give us extra width.

"Damien is very close. He played a full 90 minutes for Ireland last week which is good for us. He is in full training and he has a chance of being involved on Saturday."

Iain Dowie, the Crystal Palace manager, surveyed the wreckage of a crashed start to his team's Premiership comeback and admitted: "I'm still enjoying this job, loving it - and I'm always the optimist."

Dowie, the former West Ham, Luton and Northern Ireland striker who worked in an aircraft factory before turning professional, has won applause for lifting Palace back to the high life.

But after three games in the top flight they have just one point and Dowie cannot fail to notice he is working for one of the most ruthless chairmen in the business in Simon Jordan.

Successive home defeats by Everton and Chelsea have brought the Eagles down to earth with a bump.

The former Oldham manager recalled: "People said I did a very good job last season and that's nice to hear, but we have got to forget last season now.

"We knew it was going to be hard in the Premiership. We have had to scrap through the play-offs to get here and it will be tough staying up.

"I honestly thought we should have beaten Everton and could have gotten a result against Chelsea. So I'm very disappointed we didn't.

"We have to see who is around us in the table and put points on the board against them. One point from three games is not great but one point from six games would be an alarm and next we have Middlesbrough and Portsmouth away and Manchester City at home."