Why Torres Will Top the Premier League in 2012/13.
By Oliver Wilson
Chelsea’s Fernando Torres has struggled since his departure from Liverpool but the last 18-months of anguish have readied the striker to be a dominant force in the Premier League once again.
It took 732 minutes for Torres to score his first goal for Chelsea after joining the London club in the January transfer window of 2011.
Last season it took just five games for El Nino to hit the back of the net against Manchester United at Old Trafford, although the Spaniard did go on a 19 game goals scoring drought in the League that lasted from mid-September to the last day of March.
This season, though, Torres took just 40 minutes to open his account in competitive football as he announced to world that Fernando was back and ready to take the league by storm.
Many have already predicted a huge season for the man who cost Roman Abramovich £50 million 18-months ago.
The end of last season saw Torres looking sharp and energetic and his match winning goal in the Champions League semi-final against Barca was seen as being the moment that Chelsea’s #9 finally got his confidence back.
His summer was exceptional as he won the golden boot at Euro 2012, despite Vicente del Bosque’s initial desire to start a Spain side without a center forward, and another international winners medal did nothing to dent the high spirited forward.
Now, without Didier Drogba’s presence looming over him at Chelsea, Torres appears free to be Roberto Di Matteo’s number one striker in a almost pressure free environment, especially after ‘the next big thing’ Romelu Lukaku was shipped off to West Bromwich Albion to get more playing time at Premier League level.
The stage appears set for Torres to re-explode onto the Premier League scene just as he did in his first season at Liverpool in 2007, and Fernando could be better then ever this year thanks to the torrid time he’s had at Chelsea in his first season and a half at the club.
On Merseyside Torres was never asked to do anything aside from hit the back of the net. As one of Europe’s elite finishers this was a task that Torres had no problem undertaking as he fired home 81 goals in 142 appearances for the Reds.
The midfield trio of Steven Gerrard, Macherano and Xabi Alonso gave the striker plenty of service, both on the deck and from the air, but more importantly, they formed a solid defensive unit behind the forward, allowing Torres to not have to worry about tracking back.
He roamed the attacking third almost exclusively and his mind was rarely asked to chance out of its attacking mentality.
His move to Chelsea changed this and Torres, especially under the short lived reign of Andre Villas-Boas, was forced to help provide more defensive support to his midfield, including tracking back and sitting deeper on the pitch.
Chelsea played a different style of football, one geared around a striker like Didier Drogba, that asked Torres to hold up play and be a playmaker as well as score goals. Fernando learnt last season to create space off the ball, carve out chances for others, and generally improve on the aspects of his game that had gone unused for much of his time in England.
His confidence may have been a little shaken after his goal drought continued at Stamford Bridge, but that was only his confidence in front of goal, not in his footballing abilities.
Not having to compete with Drogba mixed with his sterling form this summer have brought back his deft touch in-front of goal, and the skills learnt last season, along with a far more creative supporting cast (the additions of Oscar, Edin Hazzard and Marko Marin this summer will all add to the great service provided by Juan Mata) now have El Nino set to run riot on Premier League defences all over again.
Torres could well have become one of the most complete forwards in English football without us even realising it, and his doubters from last season – who believed the measure of a good striker was based on goals alone – will most likely be eating their words come December.
Against City on Saturday Fernando made mincemeat of Vincent Kompany on a number of occasions, forcing the Barclays Premier League Player of the Season to resort to chopping down the rampant Spaniard. His finish past Costa Pantilimon was cool, calculated and confidant, while his movement off the ball created space for the advancing midfield.
Had Chelsea not gone down to 10-men City would have struggled against a team that matched them for the opening 40 minutes of an enthralling encounter at Villa Park.
The signs are there for all to see, Chelsea are a force to be reckoned with this season and Torres is primed to be the top scorer in the Premier League after a season and a half of having ‘lost’ it.
But Fernando never lost it, he always had it last season, he just wasn’t played in role he was used to playing. A bad season on some people’s eyes was actually a good season for the growth of his skill set and development of a world-class player.
Defenders beware. This year Fernando will be flying.