Monday 23 October 2017

Drogba displays leading man qualities as Torres fluffs lines

West Brom 1
Chelsea 3

Goal drought: Fernando Torres Photo: Getty Images
Goal drought: Fernando Torres Photo: Getty Images

Sandy Macaskill

Carlo Ancelotti insists that he has not lost faith in Fernando Torres, even though another game has gone by in which the Spaniard failed to score and Didier Drogba showed that he should be leading the Chelsea line.

Ancelotti even suggested that he would consider starting Torres against Birmingham City on Wednesday night despite hauling him off at half-time during Chelsea's Champions League defeat to Manchester United last week and leaving him to watch Drogba show how it should be done for 82 minutes at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. "Yes. Not just for the next game. We want him involved in the last games," the Chelsea manager said.

A goal drought is depressing for any striker, but particularly if they have a high price tag. Torres, the £50m man, has not scored since Liverpool's 3-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers on January 22, and it is having a corrosive effect.

In the 13 minutes he ended up playing here, Torres did find the net but his effort was disallowed for offside. It must have sent his head spinning, because a minute later he missed the ball entirely.

Ancelotti has tried to take the pressure off the 27 year-old by insisting that Torres's raison d'etre is not necessarily just to score.

"Everyone is hoping that Torres will score a goal and we will give him chances to do that, but it doesn't mean he has to score," he said. "I haven't asked for him to score, I have asked him to move for the team and to play well," Ancelotti said.

Clearly the simplest thing to do would be to just keep selecting the Spaniard until the law of averages does its work and the floodgates open.

But that decision becomes harder with qualification for the Champions League to consider, and doubly so when Drogba is at his devastating best.

It was as though the Ivorian was intent on taunting Ancelotti and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich over his exclusion from the first half at Old Trafford last week.

He scored Chelsea's first, when Scott Carson and Nicky Shorey managed to squander a lead given to them by Peter Odemwingie with such bungling defending that it had to be seen to be believed.

But it was not just his goal, it was Drogba's work rate and desire. Charging around like the proverbial bull, the 33-year-old hustled and bustled, creating Salomon Kalou's goal then appearing at left-back a minute before the end of the first half to set in motion events that would lead to Frank Lampard's neat finish.

"When he plays like that the whole team feels secure," said Kalou. "He always gives his best for the team and he has the personality to bring everyone together. He is back to his top level. It's the Didier we all want to see. I need to ask Didier how he can keep putting in those performances.

"When you also see a player like Ryan Giggs doing his thing at 37 for Manchester, you need these kind of players in the team, players with a lot of experience who play with their heart. Didier can play as long as he wants." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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