Roberto Di Matteo’s honeymoon ended at Man City on Wednesday night, but the Blues have a spring in their step, and it’s mainly down to Fernando Torres’ long-awaited revival, writes Tim Harrison.
Chelsea took the lead against City through a fortuitous deflection, but on the balance of play a 2-1 defeat for the Blues was fair.
Di Matteo showed renewed faith in Torres by naming the highlighted Spaniard in the starting line-up, building on the extraordinary resurgence in the striker’s form last weekend.
Against Leicester in the FA Cup, Torres was on fire, scoring twice and playing a creating role for others.
After his brace at the Bridge, Torres said: “I feel the confidence of the manager now.” It’s always tempting to read more into a remark than is intended, but you’d have to say it seems the misfiring forward holds Andre Villas-Boas partly responsible for his recent drought.
Importantly for Chelsea’s league run-in, Torres’ contribution against Leicester went much further than scoring twice.
He teed up Salomon Kalou for Chelsea’s second goal, then unselfishly squared in the 90th minute, with the game won, to set up Raul Meireles for the Blues’ fifth.
A conventional striker, knowing the clock was all-but wound down, would have had a crack himself, for the hat-trick.
Perhaps Torres is evolving as a new breed of front man – part provider, part marksman – determined to share the spoils and gain as much credit for his assists as his goals.
Will Di Matteo start his blonde No 9 again this weekend, when Spurs visit SW6? Torres’ contribution to Chelsea’s overall performance, both against Leicester and against Manchester City, suggest he has earned his place back.
Apparently, worried about her son’s recent run, Torres’ mother sent him to see a careers adviser. All went well until he asked: ‘So, what are your goals?’.
Di Matteo itches to use his Torres in Benfica. Can you hear the puns, Fernando?