The build up to Sunday's game at Stamford Bridge could focus on Chelsea trying to maintain fourth spot in response to a bad run of form. It could focus on Liverpool pushing for Champions League qualification for the first time in a few seasons. However, due to the significance of one very expensive player, the importance of this game in the fourth place battle will play only a supporting role in the press. Chelsea are taking on Liverpool at home and inevitably the majority of media attention will fall on Fernando Torres. Despite the wishes of both AVB and Dalglish the focus of this game will be on one player. Chelsea fans will of course be hoping the 27-year-old comes good and haunts his old club. When he faced them back in February this year he played an extremely forgettable 65 minutes in a game where Raul Meireles scored the only goal to secure Liverpool three points. Meireles also now resides at Stamford Bridge after a last minute move in the most recent transfer window, so there will be a few boos thrown his way as well as at the Spaniard from the away fans end.
Andre Villas-Boas has claimed that Torres is still worth his price tag, which currently works out to £10 million per goal so far. The young manager was quick to stress what Torres brings in the form of assists and is pleased with his overall performance. This statement of reassurance confirms that Didier Drogba’s return from suspension does not present a selection dilemma, with Torres almost certain to lead the line. The Blues have no fresh injury doubts so the rest of the team will shape up similarly to the one that played Blackburn two weeks ago, with Malouda being the player likely to make way for Torres. Suarez, despite making the headlines for the wrong reasons this week will head up Liverpool’s attack but Steven Gerrard is not yet back to full fitness following his ankle infection.
Neither team enters the game on a particularly good run of form, Liverpool will still regret not taking a further four points from the recent home draws against Norwich and Swansea. And the scars from the Blues humiliation against Arsenal will still be raw even after getting back to winning ways in their last league game against Blackburn. But talk of form, tactics or any of the other 21 starting players for that matter will be largely overlooked – rest assured all eyes are on Torres in this game. As earlier mentioned his first appearance against Liverpool was frustratingly quiet – hopefully this time will be different. Here we recount a few memorable appearances against former clubs…
The significance that Chelsea’s opponents on Sunday are Liverpool should not be the main inspiration for Torres – five goals in 30 games is a poor record for a striker.
Emmanuel Adebayor playing for Manchester City against Arsenal
Unsportsmanlike doesn’t begin to describe Adebayor’s game against his former employers. Running the length of the pitch at Eastlands to taunt his old fans was met with disgust by all football supporters – not just the Gunners. He also took the opportunity to stamp on the face of his old team mate, Robin Van Persie. Appalling. He appeared to start the game with the intention of antagonising Arsenal. That day he probably earned himself a reputation as one of the most hated players in football. If Torres should be lucky enough to score on Sunday I’m sure he will carry himself with slightly more grace. It will be interesting to see whether he celebrates at all – you would think he would celebrate any goal in response to the drought he is experiencing.
Carlos Tevez playing for Manchester City against Manchester United
Tevez scored twice to bring City back from a goal down to overcome United in the Carling Cup. His celebration after the second goal, holding his hands behind his ears in defiance was not quite in the same league as Adebayor’s antics but nonetheless was met with anger from United fans. It’s almost two years since that game and Tevez now seems to be surplus to requirements at City due to their abundance of strikers but the feeling that there is more than one big club in Manchester is one that has continued to flourish. A performance like this for Torres would silence not only the Liverpool fans but also the press for a few games at least.
Denis Law playing for Manchester City against Manchester United
We move to Old Trafford here with perhaps the most famous appearance against an ex-club. After playing for United for eleven years, Law ended his career with a season at City. He returned to Old Trafford on the final day of the season to score an stylish back-heel securing City a 1-0 victory. He thought it was the goal that had knocked United out of the top tier, however, it turned out that because of other results they were condemned to relegation anyway. Of course Law didn’t know this as he scored the goal and very respectfully he didn’t celebrate – he has since described himself as “inconsolable” after scoring the goal.
So Torres will have to do something quite remarkable to make Sunday’s game against Liverpool as memorable as any of these. But the significance that Chelsea’s opponents on Sunday are Liverpool should not be the main inspiration for Torres – five goals in 30 games is a poor record for a striker. As much as his performances can be decent and AVB can praise him, it will only be goals that will finally shake the press off his back.
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