The latest edition of The Aston Villa.Report is here! In this column, I offer my [admittedly-very-cheeky] perspective on £50m man and his team! Today, I look at yesterday's Premier League match against
If you hadn't seen the match yesterday, and someone told you today that Fernando Torres scored a proper striker's goal yesterday, you'd have chalked it up to today being April Fool's Day. Rest assured, though, he did score that goal. For once, he didn't think; he just scored. Like Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer upon the discovery of the coelacanth, we witnessed something everyone assumed long dead. Now, it still remains to be seen if it's anything more than the last flash of a dying bulb, but Fernando Torres was back in that moment. The one we paid £50m for. The one who made Liverpool into a Premier League powerhouse.What do Roy Hodgson, Carlo Ancelotti, and Andre Villas-Boas have in common? They've all tried to get the best from a certain Spaniard, yet failed to do so. Did they all have bigger problems to deal with? Of course they did, but, by all appearances, Roberto Di Matteo is taming the unicorn and getting Fernando Torres back on track. Since the Italian took the reins at Chelsea, all of our players have looked happier, but none more than Fernando. He had good periods under Andre Villas-Boas, but he's now scored three goals in fours starts to add to the assists he's been getting all year. Now, whether the earlier good times fizzled out due to a lack of goals is a matter for debate, but the fact that he's doing well now is all that matters.
As for the Villa match itself, it was good performance, though not particularly fantastic. Five minutes in, David Luiz found Nando with a long pass into space, though he could only shoot at Shay Given. Three minutes later, Torres played a lovely one-two in the box with his compatriot Juan Mata, though his shot was blocked. It probably deserved to be a Torres goal, but the ball fell to Daniel Sturridge, who had an open goal three yards out. Danny didn't disappoint, finishing well to put Chelsea in the lead. Around the quarter-match mark. Torres and Mata hooked up again, though Mata only managed to find the post. It was wonderful play, and, as with Sturridge goal, involved Salomon Kalou, who has also been good under Di Matteo.
There were still flashes of the problems that have dogged him all season, as Mata squared to him standing at the edge of the area, but Torres didn't go for the ball, perhaps thinking there was a player coming in behind him. One wouldn't have been blamed for being somewhat disappointed with his performance in the next forty minutes, as he disappeared somewhat, though Chelsea extended their lead through Serbian man-bear Branislav Ivanovic, from a corner where Fernando dragged the defenders away from him. Aston Villa then managed to turn around the deficit to equalise, to the frustration of Chelsea fans everywhere.
At 2-2, Chelsea needed someone to step up to save the match in the final ten minutes. Fernando was arguably Chelsea's best player in that time, bagging an assist and his spectacular goal. From a corner in the 83rd minute, Torres' flicked-on header found the man-bear, who scored his second and put Chelsea into a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Torres' run off the line was essential to the the goal, and was the type of movement he wasn't doing during his drought.
Then, it was time for the goal. In the second minute of stoppage time, Danny found Torres on the counter following a mazy run. Torres took a touch at the edge of the area before finishing coolly past a diving Given into the bottom corner. It was a truly exquisite counter-attacking goal, and the type of finish we used to see from Nando in his Liverpool glory days. Seriously, watch the video posted yesterday. It was the sort of finish that either means he's back or Roman has invented time travel. With the old guard not having opposing teams for brunch just yet, I think we can rule out time travel.
As I said before, it's not as though we haven't seen bright sparks from him before. He is on a run of three goals in four games, though. I'm not sure what it'll take to convince us that he's really back for good, but if he continues like he has under RDM, he'll get there soon. He looks happy, he's playing well, and he's scoring. Not only is he scoring, but he's scoring without thinking. Nando's biggest hang-up this season has been that he's thinking rather than doing. If RDM has got into his head and not only got him in a good place, but also stopped him over-thinking, he deserves some sort of medal, preferably one that's large and made of chocolate, because, well, chocolate is yummy. Seriously, though, he probably deserves the job full-time if he keeps up what he's done to get the squad in the right frame of mind again.