Scoring in consecutive matches. Scoring two braces in a row. In truth, no one thought Fernando Torres had that kind of scoring power anymore. After a rough start to the Rafa Benitez tenure at Chelsea, their win-less streak is over and keeping up with the top two teams might not be such a lost cause after all.
While Chelsea slowly adapt to the new style Benitez is deploying, which means an actual winger playing in the front four while Eden Hazard or Juan Mata play a wider role than before, Fernando Torres is suddenly looking like the striker Benitez had with him at Liverpool. The Danes from midweek and Sunderland aren’t the strongest of opposition, but after such a long time without a win, anything, certainly a 3-1 away is, is welcomed with open arms.
While Chelsea went through the motions in the match, especially after scoring the third goal and needlessly lost their focus and their concentration, allowing the home side to score and apply some pressure near the end, Fernando Torres, playing the whole 90 minutes, was on fire from the first moment he stepped on the pitch.
It wasn’t just scoring twice, bringing his tally up to six league goals this season. Torres was dangerous and could have ended up with a hat trick or more if he was a little bit more accurate and a tad more lucky. He missed a couple of chances before scoring the first, in which he was also involved in building. The second one was him stepping up to take a penalty kick, something Torres was afraid to do last season, as Mata was trying to help his teammate regain his confidence.
While Torres went through some sort of evolution and devolution this season, it’s not the same player from the early stages of his Chelsea career. His struggles went with the problems of Chelsea. He depends on the good form of Mata, Hazard, and also Oscar and Victor Moses in other times (all four in this match), but it’s the ability to create for himself at other times that was missing. Suddenly, Torres ends up attempting 6 and 7 shots in one match, which couldn’t have happened in the previous six weeks.
Benitez’ who ended the idea of playing Oscar, Hazard and Mata together because he felt that didn’t give his team enough width when they play might have found a way to use Oscar in a different role, something some of us suggested earlier this season. Oscar plays this role for the national team at times, and while not being as good defensively as you’d like from your defensive midfielder, Chelsea don’t really have any better options at the position, not to mention the ability in passing and long range threat he adds when playing in a more retreated role.
Roman Abramovich wants a title, or at least a challenge. He wouldn’t have fired Roberto Di Matteo if he thought the season was lost. He brought a man he’s likely to fire let go at the end of the season, but knows he is capable of putting this team back on track. Whether or not it’s good enough for a title depends also on United’s and City’s point consumption rate, not just Chelsea’s ability. With Fernando Torres looking slightly closer to his old self, there’s one less thing to worry about at Stamford Bridge.