Much has been made about Fernando Torres and the demise from his world-class status. Like most Chelsea fans, I’ve willed him on during his every appearance to reach the form he once had. It feels more like relief when he scores, as opposed to happiness; I also find myself celebrating a goal as if he’d scored a hattrick! And like most Chelsea fans, I began making excuses, such as he hasn’t got the right midfield support, or he’s playing in a different system.
We’ve seen four managers work with Fernando, each using different systems; we’ve seen the switch to 4-2-3-1 with the Mata, Hazard and Oscar behind him to provide the creativity he needs; so his lack of form can’t be down to the reasons I’d hoped.
So there must be something different with Fernando within himself, what positions he gets in, how willing he is to shoot, his confidence, or where he shoots.
Torres Shot / Goal Placement
Let’s take a look at his shot placement, here’s two graphics, one from the 09/10 season for Liverpool and the current 12/13 season for Chelsea. I have chosen that particular season from Liverpool because that was the last season he was on top form.
So for Liverpool, we can see that his goals generally come from shooting towards the left of the goal and particular in the lower half.
[box_dark]40% of all his goals were in the bottom left corner of the goal for Liverpool in the 09/10 season.[/box_dark]
Compared to the shots that were saved, they generally came low down the middle (straight at the keeper), or to the bottom right.
Could it be said that Torres’s confidence is in knowing where he is going to place the ball? The large majority of his goals are in one particular area, so he definitely knows where he is putting the ball when he gets it. I’d say that most of his goals go into the bottom left because he is right-footed, and most right-footers are more confident pulling the shot as opposed to pushing.
Now for Chelsea, we can see an obvious problem with his shot placement, a massive amount of shots that are saved are at the middle bottom of the goal (straight at the keeper); his shots to the bottom right (pushing the ball) don’t do too well either. Although, it’s interesting to see that his goals are perfectly spread across both sides of the goal, but more in the top half.
He’s clearly lacking in confidence. Could it be said that he isn’t as sure where he is putting the ball compared to his time at Liverpool? Where a large majority of his goals were in the same place? Or could he have more confidence in varying his shot placement? Either way, he isn’t doing as well.
Torres Chance Creation
One particular statistic has stood out to me, Torres has created more chances this season for Chelsea compared to the 09/10 season for Liverpool. For Liverpool, Torres created a chance every 82 minutes played, at Chelsea he has created a chance every 76 minutes played.
There’s a lot to be said about this statistic. I think the best way to explain is Chelsea’s philosophy is a lot more fluid than that of Liverpool’s in the 09/10 season. Where all of Chelsea’s players are expected to contribute in attack and defence, with the team willing to score goals, which we can see with how many Ivanović scores. Compared to Liverpool back then, when it was very much nine players defended, and when they won the ball, a quick counter-attack would be finished off by Torres who had been waiting on the shoulder of the last defender.
We could look at it another way. Due to Torres’s lack of confidence in front of goal, he finds himself working harder to get the ball, which leads to dropping deeper to find the ball earlier, and by dropping deeper he is inadvertently opening up space behind for the attacking trio to move into. This is in comparison to Liverpool where he knew that he could score any goal from anywhere near the goal, he also knew that his role was to finish the Liverpool attack off and that the team relied on him to do this.
Another interesting statistic is his crossing:
At Liverpool he managed a cross every 61 minutes, compared to Chelsea where he got a cross in every 67 minutes. So we now know Torres crossed a decent amount more at Liverpool, we can relate this back to my previous point of Torres expected to finish off Liverpool’s counter-attacks. For example, the counter-attack could take him out towards the wing due to being outnumbered by the defence, consequently being out on the wing he is attempting a lot of crosses.
We’ve already seen that Torres is creating more chances at Chelsea, and now we can see that this is mainly being done in the central areas of the pitch, assuming the majority of his crosses are coming from wide. Chelsea play more of a possession game, with attacking full backs adding to the already offensive trio, so we will already have two players on each wing, meaning there is no need for Torres to move out there.
The fact that Torres’s crossing is more accurate at Chelsea could be because Chelsea are better at heading, but with the most realistic players who will get on the end of a Torres cross being the attacking trio who each lack in the height department; compared to Liverpool who would have had Gerrard in the box; we can see it isn’t that reason. It can only be put down that Torres has improved his accuracy.
Torres Shots on Target & Chance Conversion
Torres has averaged the same amount of minutes per shot on target for the 09/10 and the 12/13 season. On average, Torres is getting a shot on target away every 37 minutes. This not only shows that Torres definitely has the confidence to get a shot away, but get it on target. So there isn’t much difference between these two Torres’s at the minute.
Taking a look at his chance conversion, we can see the difference. Torres converted nearly double the amount of chances he received at Liverpool compared to Chelsea this season. So he’s got the confidence and ability to get regular shots on target, but his ability to put a shot on target past the keeper, or in the right area, is obviously lacking.
We can link this back to the first category, where his shot placement isn’t very specific this season, it is varied across the goal; compared to Liverpool where he knew exactly where he was putting his shots. Could it be said that if Torres picked a corner and went for that every time he got the ball at Chelsea he would put it away? We don’t know, but the stats do suggest that.
So to wrap up, the main differences we can see in Torres as a player is that he is creating more at Chelsea, but he just can’t convert his chances. His contribution of 7 goals this season see’s him 29th in the goalscoring charts (ouch) and his mins per goal is at 326 minutes per goal – around 3.6 games per goal. It’s not really good enough but is it really that bad?
I think people see him as a flop mainly because of the cost to bring him to Chelsea, but also because he’s had some right howlers in his time (Manchester United at the beginning of last season). In terms of goal return he is above average in the Premier League, so he isn’t doing as bad as some may suggest; want proof? Have a look at the list of players above to the right.
He’s started to pick up recently though, scoring that goal in the Europa League against Rubin Kazan, a goal that we wouldn’t have imagined him scoring a month or two ago. However will he ever get to recreate the form he had in a Liverpool shirt? He has much to prove and will have to prove it in the Premier League to silence the critics. Or will he ever silence them?
[box_light]All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.[/box_light]