herald

Sunday 21 December 2014

Torres is now less effective than Suarez

AS he went through passport control at Turin airport, it was Fernando Torres from all the Chelsea squad who was singled out by one of the staff and approached for a photograph. The £50m man obliged, putting an arm around the shoulders of his new friend and cracking a rare smile for the picture.

Torres still has star billing by virtue of his reputation, but if Roberto Di Matteo had more options he would not be in the team. He has scored just six in 18 competitive appearances this season and his moping around during Saturday's defeat to West Bromwich Albion represented a new low in the troubled story of Torres at Chelsea.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez became the Premier League's leading scorer after his two goals against Wigan on Saturday took him to 10 for the season.

The Uruguay international is proving wrong the critics who suggested he was not as prolific in front of goal as the man he replaced, Torres, as can be seen from the graphic below.

By this point last season Torres had already been dropped by Andre Villas-Boas and was growing accustomed to sitting gloomily on the bench. Goodness knows, Villas-Boas had many flaws, but he was not afraid to leave out Roman Abramovich's single biggest signing. Last season, Torres was dropped for 16 of Chelsea's 28 games before the new year. The contrast this season is stark.

He has started every one of Chelsea's 20 games, including Community Shield and Super Cup, apart from the League Cup tie against Manchester United for which he was suspended. When the only other option as a centre-forward is Daniel Sturridge, that is what you end up with, although Sturridge, to his credit, looked much more dangerous against West Brom at the weekend.

Against Juventus tonight, Chelsea need to avoid defeat to ensure that a win over Nordsjaelland on December 5 will guarantee they reach the Champions League knockout stages. Di Matteo knows that if he leaves Torres out tonight it will be a controversial decision within the club. Given the alternatives, Di Matteo might well feel that he has no option but to hope that tonight is the night for Chelsea's No 9.

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