Chelsea handed Fernando Torres his second start in as many games, as well as a first for David Luiz in a shirt. Both showed signs of promise but there was also plenty on display to underline that the manager’s work is not yet done. Chelsea
Firstly let’s look at Torres. Without question, his movement off of the ball and between two centre halves is top drawer. Even being short of confidence, this is the part of his game that just happens; that is his talent. There were three or four occasions last night when he managed to creep off of the shoulder of one of the Fulham centre halves to get a sniff at goal. Unfortunately for
last night, that is where it ended as far as quality was concerned. It could be down to a lack of match sharpness (which would seem odd given he played regularly for Liverpool), taking time to settle in or just wanting to make extra sure with an additional touch, but Fernando Torres was not quite firing last night. I am not sure if the £50m price tag has added an extra burden onto his shoulders, but it has certainly given opposing fans something to shout about. There was no greater example of this than when the two Chelsea new boys linked up. David Luiz played a glorious ball over the top of the central defensive pair and Torres was off like a whippet. Watching the ball drop over his shoulder I was expecting one deft touch to control and one more to send the back of the net rippling. It wasn’t to be. That first deft touch that we were anticipating ended up being a hefty toe that sent the ball straight into the keeper’s arms. Cue cheers of “what a waste of money”. However, I have no doubt that at some point he will find that touch again and he will never look back. Chelsea
As for David Luiz, there were many times throughout the 90 minutes when he showed he is a top class player. He is fast, good in the air and comfortable on the ball. Indeed, in the second half you could be forgiven for forgetting that Andy Johnson was even on the pitch, so little was his involvement. However there were also some concerning moments. The stand out one of these is giving away the penalty at the death that so nearly cost us a share of the points. I must say that he looked very tired at this point and maybe the foul was a result of the body not doing what the mind is telling it. If that is the case then
fans should have no worries. Adapting to the speed of the league is something all imports have to do and fitness will come with games. However I do think that there were other occasions when tiredness wasn’t the culprit. There were 3 or 4 occurrences during the 90 minutes when David Luiz came away from the back with the ball at his feet, only to give it away very cheaply, sometimes putting the team under immediate defensive pressure. There was also a tackle in the first half on Clint Dempsey in the box that didn’t look like it needed to be made- it was risky and could have given away a penalty. In these instances it appears that it was the decision making that was at fault and this could be harder to cure than fitness alone. Conceivably, one could argue that the pace of the game was a factor in all of these instances and I hope that that is the case. I don’t think that anyone can argue though that all the ingredients are there to make Luiz into one of the best defenders in the world. Chelsea
So all in all a disappointing night for Chelsea in a game when we again failed to score despite dominating the game, however an encouraging performance from Luiz, an improved performance from Torres and another clean sheet give signs that finishing in the top four should be comfortable for Chelsea (that is my way of quietly conceding that hopes for the title are well and truly gone).