The Spanish striker has now gone five games without a goal in a blue jersey and rarely looked like altering that statistic during another insipid display for his new team. Barring a couple of late second-half efforts struck without conviction, Torres again looked a pale imitation of the sharpened Anfield predator circa 2007.
In an attempt to deflect attention away from his net-shy striker, Carlo Ancelotti spoke pre-match about the importance of Torres to the team as a whole rather than his weight in goals. After going another ninety minutes without registering, Ancelotti’s statements only brought more focus on what else his new signing brought to the party, which upon reflection amounted to the square root of nothing.
In the grand scheme of a £50m deal, a five-year contract and a five-game ‘drought’, few within the corridors of power at Stamford Bridge will be overly worried yet showings such as the one at Bloomfield Road only raise more questions when others are still unanswered.
Torres’s arrival combined with Chelsea’s tactical falterings has seen the side switch to a 4-4-2 to accommodate their number nine and theoretically eradicate any lingering problems with the worn 4-3-3 or the unsuccessful diamond. In essentially causing his new team to implement a new formation, Torres has burdened himself with even greater responsibility.
This switch has resulted in three successive victories as the Blues reignite their once dim and distant title flame, but little within this resurgence has been directly attributable to the man that incorporated the change. Both Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka have been chosen to dovetail Torres and barring moments against a weak FC Copenhagen, neither combination has been a resounding triumph. On paper, a partnership of either/or should have opposition defenders scurrying for cover yet Chelsea’s last five goals have come from their midfield and defence whilst the frontmen have barely threatened.
Torres’s premier years at Anfield were watermarked with an energy and vibrancy that made him unplayable at times. The former Atletico Madrid striker caused endless problems with his movement by either shrewdly dropping into space or intuitively running the channels. Both of these elements have been absent from his play so far for Chelsea as he meanders around up-front sporting the look of a kid not getting a kick in the playground.
In a side that create chances, strikers will invariably strike enough to cash their wage cheques but simply getting on the end of others good work does not command a £50m fee. A firing Torres brings more worth to a team than that in creating chances for others and himself from a range of positions lesser strikers would not.
Regardless of what Ancelotti says, the only way the Londoners will see the best of Torres is if he can replicate his prolific Liverpool form. Goals breed confidence and will inevitably bring the best out of a striker who, when fit and on form, is as good as any frontman in the world. However, the goals conundrum is chicken and the egg and if the goals are not flowing, Torres would be wise to go back to what he was doing when they were coming – for the benefit of all involved.