Sunday 17 November 2019

Chelsea manager resolves interview issue with Torres

David Luiz celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mate Fernando Torres. Photo: Getty Images
David Luiz celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mate Fernando Torres. Photo: Getty Images

Sam Wallace and Glenn Moore in Dortmund

The Chelsea manager, Andre Villas-Boas, said last night that he had resolved the issues around Fernando Torres' interview in which the striker appeared to criticise his team-mates, after a night in which Torres made both goals in his team's 2-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League but again failed to find the net himself.

Against Borussia Dortmund in Germany, Arsenal were denied victory by a spectacular late goal from substitute Ivan Perisic that gave the German champions a point after Robin Van Persie had scored the first for the English club. Arsenal were under pressure for long periods of the game and Wojciech Szczesny prevented them going down to a Champions League opening-day defeat with a save in injury-time.

Torres was again centre-stage for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge when, in injury-time, he chose to play in team-mate Juan Mata for his team's second goal despite having a good chance to score himself. He had also made the first with a lay-off for David Luiz on 65 minutes but had been less certain when presented with chances to score his first goal since April.

On the issue of Torres' interview, given while on international duty, in which he described Chelsea's style as "very slow" and some of his team-mates as "old", Villas-Boas said that there would be no further action.

The Chelsea manager said: "The problem is solved. The investigation is over. We had a chat and the situation is solved. You saw the player involved [last night] and he put in a good collective performance, like the team had. Hopefully these things won't arise in the group again. If they do, it'll be the manager who has to resolve it."

Villas-Boas said that Didier Drogba's recovery from his collision against Norwich City, and subsequent dental surgery, meant that he was not likely to be fit to play against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday. Nevertheless, the young Chelsea manager said that he was confident his team could win the game.

He said: "Sunday is a different kind of challenge altogether. We face United, perhaps in their most tremendous moment of motivation and flair and style. A team that has made its impact at the beginning of the Premiership, [a team that is] different from last year. But I think it provokes in us a good challenge.

"Motivation will be the key factor in the game, and the capacity of people to transcend themselves and come back from Old Trafford with a win. We will go there to try to win it. Let's see how it happens. It's going to be a very, very good game early season for the Premiership."

Villas-Boas also made the unusual decision to rest John Terry and Frank Lampard last night. While Lampard came on in the second half, Terry was not even on the bench and Villas-Boas said that he had made the decision out of "fairness" to all his players rather than claim he was simply keeping them fresh for Sunday's match. Historically, Terry and Lampard have always played if fit.

With Arsène Wenger banished to the stand by Uefa in Dortmund last night, it was left to his assistant Pat Rice to manage the side from the touchline. Rice said: "We battled really hard and we knew it would be a hard, hard game. To be able to defend well is a high-quality skill and that is something all of our players did.

"I shouldn't think many teams will come to Dortmund and beat them and we were very, very close to doing that. Don't forget Dortmund are a really good side. There is no question about that.

"But the same thing happened to us in terms of the goal as happened when we played Tottenham and Danny Rose hit an unbelievable shot. It was the same [against Dortmund]. I should imagine that he [Perisic] could try that 25, 30, 40 times and he would hit it over the bar or at the goalkeeper. It was a great goal."

Independent News Service

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