Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Chelsea vs Liverpool, 6th February (Chelsea lose 1-0)
The football gods would just so have it that the first game Torres was available to play for Chelsea was that against his old club, of whom he’d gone from beloved son to reviled Judas. Football fans all over the world were rubbing their hands together at the anticipation of Torres scoring against the club that nurtured him into one of the world’s superstars, if only to see how he would celebrate after he scored. They needn’t have worried; Torres was off-form, as were most of the Chelsea team and a Liverpool side with a point to prove could easily have scored more than the one they did; a shot from Meireles. Following their spirited 4-2 win in the mid-week against Sunderland (which Torres was ineligible to play in) in which Nicolas Anelka had been deployed more as a midfielder than his natural forward role and absolutely thrived, giving one of his finest performances in a Chelsea shirt, Carlo Ancelotti attempted a three-man attack with Anelka, Torres and Didier Drogba upfront, but it was an experiment that failed miserably. The sad truth is that, had Ancelotti played just Anelka and Drogba in a straightforward 4-4-2, Chelsea had the quality to defeat Liverpool that day. But, with Roman Abramovich in the audience watching his new buy, that simply wasn’t an option for the Italian. Poor tactics, a miserable Chelsea performance and a good Liverpool team meant that Chelsea suffered their second home loss this season. Hardly the meeting against his old club that Torres would have dreamed of.
Fulham vs Chelsea, 14th February (scoreless draw)
There was little romance for Torres in this Valentine’s Day West London derby, in which a solid Fulham defence and some errant finishing from the Spaniard meant Torres was yet to be in a winning game for Chelsea. Ancelotti benched Drogba, so it was Torres and Anelka upfront for Chelsea, but the two exhibited little cohesion playing alongside each other, Anelka spending the majority of the game in his standard sulk-face. In fact, the player that truly shone for Chelsea in this game was the other expensive January acquisition, David Luiz, who, despite it being his debut premier league start, played like a veteran of the premier league. He was here, he was there, he was defending, attacking, creating chances; in other words, all the things Torres wasn’t do. Chelsea were unlucky, and should probably have had a penalty when Hangeland felled Malouda, but in the last minute, Man of the Match David Luiz’s lapse led to Chelsea conceding a penalty. The American Clint Dempsey’s penalty was poor and Petr Cech’s save was brilliant, meaning that whilst Chelsea should have won, they were lucky not to lose. "Are you Torres in disguise?" the Fulham fans jeered at Drogba in the second half when he misplaced a hit. Quite.
Copenhagen vs Chelsea, 22nd February (Chelsea win 2-0)
Chelsea vs Manchester United, 1st March (Chelsea win 2-1)
Blackpool vs Chelsea, 7th March (Chelsea win 3-1)
Chelsea vs Copenhagen, 16th March (scoreless draw)
Chelsea vs Manchester City, 20th March (Chelsea win 2-0)
Stoke vs Chelsea, 2nd April (1-1 draw)
Chelsea vs Manchester United, 6th April (Chelsea lose 1-0)
In what was the most important game of Chelsea's season, luck was most certainly not on their side and they slumped to a morale-crushing 1-0 home loss thanks to Wayne Rooney's goal in the first half. Carlo Ancelotti tried to play 4-4-2 with both the ~FIFA superstars~ Drogba and Torres upfront, but it failed as it did against Blackpool, and unlike against Blackpool, the rest of Chelsea were unable to pick up the slack. Much as it pained me to say it, Rio Ferdinand, coming back from huge spell of injury, had Torres' number, and Drogba, though his feet did all they could, his face told the story of a deeply discontent man. Ramires should have won a penalty and Evra should have been sent off, but this is Chelsea in the CL, when has "should" ever had a damn thing to do with anything?! To be fair, Torres did have one shot that did look to be going in if it weren't for Edwin van der Saar's brilliance, but, that he was booked for diving towards the end of the night summed up a deeply frustrating game for Chelsea on the platform of the CL, the thing they want more than anything else.
Chelsea vs Wigan, 9th April (Chelsea win 1-0)
A very unconvincing win for the home side, against a team who, in their previous two fixtures, they'd aggregated a mass scoreline of 14-0. In the end, Malouda scored the winner in a goalline kefuffle, in which Torres, ironically, did actually play a part - by impeding the Wigan goalkeeper. On the same day, Chelsea's loanee forwards Borini smacked one in for Swansea City, and Danny Sturridge scored two majestic goals for Bolton, bringing his tally since transfering to Bolton up to six. What Torres would give to just one of those six goals. Chelsea loan out one of their strikers who is scoring for fun and spend millions on a player who couldn't hit the proverbial cow's arse with the proverbial banjo? Now that, Alanis...
Manchester United vs Chelsea, 12th April (Chelsea lose 2-1)
So all this leaves Chelsea in somewhat of a quagmire (can you tell I've been on a Family Guy binge recently? Can ya?!). They have a £50million, perpetually injured striker who couldn't score in a brothel. They have zero chance of any silverwear this season, and the only thing left to fight for his for third and fourth slot, which is between them, Spurs and Manchester City. The malaise that I, and I imagine all Chelsea fans are currently in is immeasurable, and Carlo Ancelotti best sleep with one eye open if Roman's wrath is anything to be believed. It would be churlish -- and downright unfair -- to lay blame all of Chelsea's problems with Torres (we screwed up our title challenge long before he came along and he was ineligble to play in the FA Cup matches which we screwed up), but at the same time it would be blind to suggest he played no part in the massively dissappointing two games against Manchester United, which were, to be honest, the ones that mattered the most by far. Nicolas Anelka is a gem and has come out and said he "doesn't mind" not starting that much, knowing that as he's over 30 and at a club with four forwards, he needs to be realistic. However, Drogba and Salomon Kalou are clearly thinking over their options. Kalou is 25, an adorable sweetheart and a terrific little utility player for Chelsea, but when he was at Feyenoord with Dirk Kuyt, the two were tearing defences up, and Kalou must secretly pine for the days when he started almost every game, as opposed to for Chelsea, where if he's lucky, he'll get 10 minutes, and if he's very very lucky, he'll get a start, despite the fact that his goals-to-shots ratio has been far better than Torres'. The Fernando Torres jokes come in thick and fast ("Did you hear about my Torres night out?! I spent loads of money, had loads of shots but in the end didn't even score!" is a popular one, as is the website, http://hastorresscoredforchelsea.com/, which I don't believe will need updating until 2014) and I meet them sometimes with a bittersweet chuckle, sometimes with an ingrained need to defend by team -- and thus Torres. I know Roman Abramovich is a billionaire and can do whatever the hell he wants, but next time, I'd really appreciate it if he approached such a big-sum spending with a little more prudence. Torres and Drogba may score feckloads on FIFA, but, sry2say, Roman, life isn't a game of FIFA. Oh how I wish it was, but nah. At the end of the day, I'll support any player in a Chelsea shirt, even massive flops like Mateja Kezman, but this Torres escapade is all getting a little disappointing. If I had to do the same again, well, er, I most certainly wouldn't do the same, my friend, Fernando.