Over the last two seasons a common trend has appeared on Twitter during the majority of weekends. Fortunately for you I’m talking about Fernando Torres and not Justin Bieber.
Ever since he joined Chelsea for a British transfer record of £50m, Torres has been criticised and ridiculed by a large number of fans on the social network site for his lack of goals. However, this season the Spaniard has scored 28 goals for club and country (including his 5 goals at the Confederations Cup), so does he deserve the backlash he’s suffered from fans?
Fernando Torres was originally a transfer target during the first few years of Roman Abramovich’s ownership of Chelsea, but he rejected their advances in favour of Liverpool where he started extremely well by scoring 33 goals in 46 games.
The next two seasons saw him continue his impressive record in English football scoring 14 and 18 league goals in consecutive years despite playing under 24 games in both seasons; before he left in January with 81 goals in 142 games (65 in 102 in the Premier League) – a goals per game ratio of 0.57.
Torres’ record for Chelsea stands at 34 goals in 131 games, a goals per games ratio of 0.26, which isn’t the record expected of a £50m striker. The striker has managed to double his goal record in all competitions this season after scoring 11 goals in 2011/12. However, a number of 22 goals he scored came against smaller teams in the cup and Europe such as Brentford, FC Nordsjælland, Monterrey and Steaua București.
With Rafael Benitez being appointed at Chelsea in November there was talk that his previous relationship with Torres would help to rediscover his form at Liverpool, yet the Spanish striker only managed to score 4 more goals in the Premier League after Rafa’s arrival – his goal against Everton on the final day of the season was his first league goal in 2013.
The statistical difference between Torres during the 2009/10 and the 2012/13 seasons indicates one of the main reasons why his goal tally has decreased in recent years – the number of shots attempted. In 08/09 Torres had a total of 63 shots, 27 minutes per shot on average, compared to this season where whilst he had 52 shots he played more games so attempted a shot every 49 minutes on average. The decreased shot attempts may stem down to low confidence which has plagued Torres’ Chelsea career so far. This has resulted in his shot accuracy being at its highest since coming to the Premier League though, as Torres has often opted to pass to a team mate rather than shoot himself when a goal scoring opportunity had arisen this season.
With his struggles of finding the net at Chelsea, it’s no surprise that the chance conversion rate for his two full seasons at the London club are disappointingly low at 13% and 15%. During the 2009/10 season at Liverpool he had a chance conversion rate of 29%, higher than this season’s top 2 goal scorers Van Persie and Suarez, showing how drastically his form has dropped.
A big part of Torres’ play at Liverpool was his combination with Steven Gerrard as he played on the shoulder of the last defender and used his dribbling skills to get one on one with the keeper after a quick counter attack. The difference at Chelsea is they play higher up the pitch with the majority of chances created by the side coming from just outside the 18-yard box. This is also seen in the percentage of shots that Chelsea had this season from counter attacks only being 2%, the second lowest in the Premier League.
There are still glimpses of class from the Spaniard, one of which was seen in the Europa League Final as he scored Chelsea’s equaliser with the composure that has sometimes been missing in the recent stages of his career. With the appointment of Mourinho there may be a slight change in the style of play at Stamford Bridge, and after developing devastating counter attack football at Real Madrid could he help Torres gain his old form back?
While the displeasure of supporters may not help a confidence stricken player who was in the end their top goal scorer in all competitions, fans are entitled to grumble about a striker at a top 3 club who ended with the same amount of Premier League goals as Grant Holt and Jonathan Walters.
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