Chelsea’s demolition of Genk last night confirmed that the rotation policy of Andre Villas-Boas is clearly the right one to employ. Chelsea made six changes from the team that comprehensively defeated Everton in the Premier League on Saturday. Terry, Mata, Mikel, Ramires, Sturridge, and Drogba were all rested to allow other players to step up. Notably it saw a start and full 90 minutes played by the Spanish youngster Romeu. The 20-year-old put in a very respectable shift in the holding midfield role. Although his long-range effort early in the first half was horribly wide he was strong and assured in the defensive position he had been assigned. Romeu also did very well to cleanly win the ball from the Belgian domestic champions on a number of occasions to award Chelsea with possession.
Meireles also rejoined the team in the midfield to score from outside the box to gain his first Chelsea goal after being allowed far too much space from Genk. A defensive error that went on to typify their night – as much praise as I can heap on Chelsea – the Belgian defence was extremely poor. David Luiz was the replacement for John Terry at the back in a Chelsea defence who had little to do. The Brazilian did contribute a little by hitting the target from a free kick coming, second in the pecking order for placed kicks behind Lampard in the absence of Drogba and Mata. Regrettably a typical over-enthusiastic tackle also earned him a yellow card. The night also saw an outing for Malouda and Anelka in attack – positions that they are going to have to fight for with everything they have this season to get in the Chelsea team.
The most significant reappearance of the night of course came from Fernando Torres. After the game AVB was quick to play down individual performances and concentrate on the team overall – but for fans - seeing this performance from Torres was very much needed. He has not played since his horrible tackle against Swansea earned him a three-match suspension from domestic competitions. Of course given the bad start to his Chelsea career combined with this red card it was an obvious talking point in the build up to the game to question his confidence – fortunately for us Chelsea fans he answered these questions in the best manner possible.
AVB was quick to play down individual performances and concentrate on the team overall – but for fans - seeing this performance from Torres was very much needed.
His two goals were perfect evidence of what Torres is meant to be – a natural goal scorer. After being put through with time and space to spare by Frank Lampard’s through ball he calmly tucked away his first European goal for the Blues. It was not long later that he managed to convert Raul Meireles’ cross for his second with a coolly placed headed goal. Getting onto the score sheet twice in 15 minutes does not tell the full story of how Torres’ form is continuing to return. His movement off the ball as well as on it looks excellent – even when he isn’t being provided the ball or the attack breaks down before it reaches him – he is still getting into all the correct positions for a goal scorer.
Having grabbed the headlines mainly for his lack of goals since his arrival at the Bridge one might have thought greed and eagerness for a hat-trick would have clouded his awareness. However, most impressively he remained very selfless in the second half – happily giving the ball to fellow attackers Malouda and Anelka when he could have had stabs at goal himself. What is also fantastic to see is that - despite the negativity coming from the back pages for Torres - the Chelsea crowd unconditionally remain behind him. Sat behind the net in Matthew Harding Lower, there was almost a feeling of disappointment when Salomon Kalou rippled it for the fifth goal rather than Torres after a save from Genk’s Koteles denied the Spaniard his hat-trick.
After the aforementioned red card and the unforgettable howler of a miss at Old Trafford, it was thought that his lack of confidence might return – I’m relieved to see it is not the case. The form is (hopefully) finally here. His game at Manchester United last month will be forever be remembered for that miss but if it’s possible to get past that he was Chelsea’s best player on the day. He then shook off the miss by opening the scoring when we returned to the Bridge against Swansea six days later, yet tarnished that with his outrageously unnecessary moment of madness. Last night was the problem-free comprehensive showcase Torres has been working towards and deserved to display. He has one more match to serve of his ban, so will miss out on Chelsea’s away outing to Queens Park Rangers. It’ll be interesting to see him link up with the attacking prowess of Juan Mata once he’s back in the Premier League. Let’s hope it’s deadly.
Other stories you might like…
Click here for more Football and Sport stories
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook