Saturday 17 March 2018

Topsy-turvy torment continues for Torres

On noting that Frank Lampard was on the bench for this encounter, Fernando Torres might have felt relief that the midfielder's fortunes under Andre Villas-Boas were starting to overtake his own as the No 1 Chelsea sideshow.

That was before what Torres was about to receive in a match that pitted one Jose Mourinho managerial disciple (Villas-Boas) against another, Swansea City's Brendan Rodgers.

Regarding Lampard, the jury is out on whether he was rested ahead of Wednesday's Champions League trip to Valencia, or dropped for the (presumably) more dynamic Raul Meireles, chosen instead of the 33-year-old who then saw another rival, Ramires, score twice.

The opening half featured a near-anonymous Swansea, and the good, the bad and the ugly from a Torres who continues to wake from his unwanted slumber only to find the sporting gods are still having fun with him.

The bad came after 20 minutes when he fashioned another of those moments that seems to bemuse him as much as any spectator. On the edge of the visitors' area the striker looked up and appeared ready to shoot or flip in a pass to a colleague. But, instead, hesitation was followed by a soporific meander back towards his own goal, and when he was dispossessed, the 27-year-old conceded a soft foul that came laced with frustration.

If this suggested Torres was about to disappoint, what unfolded was more complex. Just before the half-hour, Juan Mata saw the Spaniard's clever left-to-right run inside the City area and dinked the ball into him; a chest-down, a swivel, then a finish into the corner, and that was two in two games, after his strike at Manchester United last Sunday.

If this was the good (or very good) Torres followed with more of the same, precipitating the move that ended in Ramires scoring Chelsea's second. Having dropped inside his own half, Torres found Ashley Cole, the left-back moved forward, then slid the ball across midfield to find the Brazilian. His shot was struck well, but Michel Vorm will be disappointed he allowed it under his body. Torres was flying but, now came the ugly; as at Old Trafford (and that miss), he was about to suffer further indignation.

Near half-way, and with no requirement to do so, Torres launched both boots at Mark Gower and made contact. Out came Mike Dean's red card, and off Torres marched, head down, pondering what, precisely, he had done to deserve his current fortunes.

Chelsea, again, were down to 10 men, as they had been here in midweek against Fulham in the Carling Cup when Alex was sent off. Rodgers looked to exploit the numbers by swapping Leon Britton for Wayne Routledge at the break, and the winger began the second half by pulling defenders to him as the Swans pinned Chelsea back.

Too often, though, their attacks fizzled out with Nicolas Anelka, now playing in Torres's central berth, showing them, and his manager, how it should be done, blazing against the bar with one long-range attempt.

Ramires scored his second by dancing past Ashley Williams -- who grabbed a late consolation for Swansea -- and finishing. A perfect afternoon for Chelsea ended when Didier Drogba, on as a substitute, collected the fourth.

"With 10 men, we never lost our will to continue to attack and I think it paid off," said Villas-Boas.


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