Could Yossi Benayoun be key to the fortunes of Chelsea and Fernando Torres?

Chelsea’s 1-0 victory against Wigan saw them move above Manchester City into third place in the Premier League. Another major boost from this game was the return of Yossi Benayoun, over six months after sustaining a torn achilles tendon before making a single league start, despite netting in a substitute appearance at Wigan in August. As the Israel captain’s return offers a further option as Carlo Ancelotti’s side look to end their season on a high, one man in particular will be delighted to see his return.

As Fernando Torres continues to recreate his best Liverpool form, his link up with former Anfield team-mate Benayoun could see the Blues’ record signing find the net with the regularity of his days on Merseyside. It was only three years ago, in a historic 4-4 Champions League semi-final second leg, Benayoun, in an advanced-midfield role, fed Torres inside the Blues’ penalty box, before the Spaniard slotted home to give Liverpool an early lead. While Chelsea went through to the final in Moscow, their fans will now be looking to this example, in hope of the pair repeating such feats in their new colours.

A creative midfielder with the ability to play from wide positions, Benayoun began the season with substitute appearances, often deployed as a winger in a 4-3-3 system, with Chelsea’s use of attacking full-backs, Benayoun was able to move inside, finding the net from inside the box at the DW Stadium. As Chelsea lost their summer signing to injury while on international duty, his new side lost a vital attacking option, with a dramatic slump in form seeing the champions slip from top of the league to outside the Champions League places.

As Blues boss Ancelotti sought to repair the damage, switching to a 4-4-2 system following the January signing of Torres. With the Israeli missing, Ancelotti positioned Benayoun’s fellow summer signing Ramires on the right of a flat midfield four. While Ramires has emerged as one of Chelsea’s better performers this season as he has continued to settle to life in English football, the return of Benayoun offers the option of playing him in his more natural, central role. As he made his long-awaited return against Wigan, replacing John Mikel Obi, Ramires moved into the centre alongside Frank Lampard, allowing his returning team-mate to play from the right of the four. As Chelsea’s full-backs made their trademark surges into opposition territory, Benayoun was allowed to make his own signature move infield, finding Torres, whose effort was saved by Ali Al Habsi. While the Wigan goalkeeper caused Torres’ frustration to continue, the striker’s almost-instant link-up with his former team-mate will surely offer a sign of things to come.

As Chelsea make a final push for honours and begin to look to the challenges of next season, the Blues are widely expected to build their attacking system around the inclusion of Torres. While fans will be hoping Torres returns to the starring attacking role they will be familiar with, the presence of another former Liverpool player, may well provide a massive contribution to Chelsea going forward.

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