Before I start, let it be known that I have tried to remain extremely objective surrounding Fernando Torres. I have written both negative articles and positive articles about his performances last season. I am not one of those people who supports Torres unconditionally because of his looks or any other reason.
With that said, Torres was awful against Shakhtar in the Champions League as Chelsea lost 2-1 in Ukraine. He was substituted off by Roberto Di Matteo after 70 minutes and rightfully so – he provided only one real shot on goal and lost the ball eight times to Shakhtar defenders. It was the worst performance for Torres this season.
Chelsea fans were brutal regarding his efforts after the game – “He’s horrible” “Need to sell him immediately” “Bench him for Sturridge and don’t look back”. By now with Torres, I’m used to comments like these and I really don’t think too much about it – but after this match in particular it is quite unfair to single out Torres. Oscar misplaced too many passes against Shakhtar and the game looked bigger than him at times. Hazard had several chances and weakly shot the ball on goal to be easily saved on multiple occasions. Mata was brought back down to earth and wasn’t nearly as much of a factor as in recent games. Petr Cech needed to make 9 saves, some incredible, to keep the game from getting out of hand and to maintain Chelsea’s respectable goal difference. It was a bad game for most members of the Chelsea squad, not just Torres.
So why does Torres get so much of the blame? Here’s why I think it’s unfair…
- Torres has FINALLY started scoring goals – Chelsea fans waited so long for Torres to score goals and now he finally is with 7 goals in his last 11 Premier League starts. Any manager in the world would love a striker who scores at that rate and it’s certainly a reason why Chelsea are at the top of the table. Sure he misses chances, but all strikers do, including Didier Drogba (who only had 5 Premier League goals last season).
- Torres has been very smart about his shot selection – While people point to his missed chances it’s somewhat surprising to note that Fernando Torres actually has taken only 17 shots to score his 4 Premier League goals this season. Compare that to the likes of “better” strikers such as Luis Suarez (5 goals, 50 shots) and Jermain Defoe (5 goals, 43 shots) and it makes Torres look significantly more clinical when he does decide to pull the trigger.
- Torres “leads” the second best attack in the Premier League – With 19 goals scored this season Chelsea have the second best attack in the Premier League – it’s honestly hard to complain about that. Obviously the goals and smart shot selection from Torres helped to reach this goal total but his ability to run and create space for the attacking trio of Mata, Oscar, and Hazard has been under-appreciated and doesn’t show up in the stats.
In short, Torres may get a lot of the blame when Chelsea loses and sometimes he deserves it. But when the opponent destroys Chelsea on both ends like Shakhtar did in the Ukraine it’s unfair to single out one player, basically as a result of habit, when he has been playing quite well in previous matches.