The match against West Brom on the weekend has turned out to be a turning point for many Chelsea fans in their patience with Fernando Torres. With the talk going around about Radamel Falcao increasing lately, many Chelsea faithful have finally lost their faith in the Spanish striker and are ready to move on to better things. Torres has always tried and been committed to the cause, which is why Chelsea fans have still supported him for nearly 2 years, eagerly waiting for the next Torres goal and then celebrating them like they counted for double. However, although he has scored respectable tally this season, his performances of late have lead to maybe all parties wanting a split in the relationship.
But why has Torres done so much worse than at Liverpool, where he was held in such high regard? Many have said that he lacks confidence, which is true, but even when Torres has scored goals on a regular basis even for 5 or 6 games like he did at the start of this season, his form hasn’t really improved as a result. The issue lies more around his decision making and conviction on the ball. The #9 never seems to be assured of what he is doing, either when dribbling with the ball or when he has a sight of goal.
At Liverpool, the Torres of old was razor sharp, beating defenders to the ball and instantly hitting off accurate shots before any reaction came from the opposition. However at Chelsea, he has lacked that ability to create goal scoring opportunities for himself because his touch in and around the box is much slower and easier to read. When the ball has come into his feet in the box, it has been obvious to defenders what he is going to do, where he is going to put the ball so he can turn and shoot, and he does it much too slow so is always shut down. This leads to him either being tackled and losing possession, or him attempting to cut the ball away from a would be tackler and then losing the ball to another defender. Nearly all of his goals have been scored with his first touch, very few after he has taken the ball in himself. When he has time to think about things, he very often makes the wrong decision.
Another reason is his touch when dribbling and attempting to beat people. At Liverpool, one of his main strengths was his turn of pace and acceleration, his ability to fly past defenders. At Chelsea, he is never assured in possession of the ball, he never seems to be 100% sure of where he wants to go with the ball and how he’s going to get there. He just seems to knock the ball forward, chase after it and hope it goes somewhere good. He often struggles to make space for himself in the middle, and the only chance he gets to move towards the goal with the ball is from out wide, where he is not very effective at all. And as a result of this, his touches are less sharp, and he often gets smothered on the ball, and goes down hoping for a free-kick, when in actual fact he is just weak in possesion. (Although I still don’t think it was a dive v United)
There have been reports that Roberto di Matteo may drop Torres for the upcoming games against Juventus and Manchester City. The other option of course is Daniel Sturridge, who played the full 90 minutes against West Brom and looked good, even if his finishing still needed to be better. In both the areas I mentioned that Torres struggles, Sturridge excels, he is able to make room for himself to shoot, he dribbles under pressure very well and is able to beat a man or two. However, where Sturridge is not so good is bringing teammates into the play, and he is often too selfish in front of goal (or 30 metres out from goal for that matter). This area is maybe where Torres has even improved since his Anfield days, because of his lack of confidence in being able to achieve things himself. But with Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar now in the team, Sturridge is the better option simply because he provides a more direct approach and will be able to finish more of the chances the creative players make, rather than consume the space they need.
Sturridge is also able to retain the ball when he dosen’t have support, which Torres can’t do. This would greatly aid Chelsea because it would allow players like Hazard to push up further in counter-attacks beyond Sturridge and then receive the ball in the space between the opposition midfield and defense, and then give it back to Sturridge or whoever is making runs further in behind. Because with Torres, one of the creative players has to carry the ball forward from defense, rather than being able to find space and then getting the ball in the final third.
Obviously Falcao would be yet another step up from Sturridge, and if he was able to utilise the creative players better I can see Chelsea winning a large number of trophies. But until his signature is confirmed Daniel Sturridge is most certainly the best option for Chelsea, especially if he can work on his finishing.
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