It’s been an exciting few weeks for Fernando Torres, to say the least. For much of the time since the Spanish striker joined Chelsea for a British-record 50m on the final day of the January transfer window, statistical match previews have been able to highlight inefficiency bordering on ineptitude in the area he’s paid to excel in.
He went scoreless in his first 13 Chelsea appearances before scoring against West Ham in late April, and that proved to be his lone tally in 18 total appearances for the Blues last season. But after furthering that poor run by failing to score in Chelsea’s first four Premier League matches this season, it looks like Torres has finally come alive.
After assisting on both of Chelsea’s goals in their 2-0 Champions League win over Leverkusen, Torres has scored in back-to-back games, netting Chelsea’s only goal in their 3-1 loss at Manchester United and the opener in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Swansea City. It’s the first time he’s scored in consecutive matches since November of last year, and it’s not a moment too soon.
Perhaps being relegated to the substitutes’ bench for Chelsea’s 2-1 win at Sunderland a fortnight ago and hearing Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas say that he wasn’t above dropping him might have done the trick, and so might have getting into Villas-Boas’ doghouse due to controversial comments about his teammates made in an interview with La Liga’s official website.
However, all is far from perfect in Fernando’s world. While he produced an excellent finish for his goal at Old Trafford, it was overshadowed by multiple misses, or rather an 83rd-minute miss in particular. After rounding David de Gea, Torres was right in front of a wide-open goal, and all he had to do was tap it in from point-blank range. But instead of pulling Chelsea within 3-2 with plenty of time left to level the match, he inexplicably fluffed his shot wide of the mark, much to his embarrassment.
He recovered from that miss to fire Chelsea into a 26th-minute lead on Saturday, but shortly after Ramires made it 2-0, Torres earned himself an early bath with an clumsy, studs-up tackle on Swansea midfielder Mark Gower. It was the first time Torres had been sent off in more than five years, and it also means an automatic three-match domestic ban and another negative moment that cancels out a positive one.
So where does that leave El Nino? It’s clear to see that his ability hasn’t left him, as shown by a couple of fine finishes for his recent goals. However, it’s also clear to see that even though his confidence in front of goal is gradually returning, there are still some great strides to be made mentally before he’s truly back. Unfortunately, due to his transfer fee, his reputation as a world-class striker, and Chelsea’s status as a top Premier League title contender, there’s a wealth of pressure to perform well and perform well now, and every apparent step back only adds more weight for him and more ammunition for the detractors.
But even with the negatives in mind, Torres is finally laying a foundation for a real resurgence, and if he can give himself the patience that many others don’t want to, it won’t be long before the hits, both literal and figurative, will start to far outweigh the misses again.
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