Fernando Torres bagged a brace as Chelsea won 3-1 away at Sunderland over the weekend. They used a subtle change of style which seemed to suit Torres and provide the Spaniard with a boost in confidence.
It was clear that Torres needed to change the way he played or Chelsea needed to change the way they played for the striker to thrive and there was evidence that Rafael Benitez has got the side working on a method, slightly different to what they have been using.
Chelsea have some gifted players in possession of the ball in the middle of the pitch, they seemed to be playing the ball into Torres much quicker which allowed him to utilise his natural instincts as a striker.
This wasn’t just simple balls into feet, Torres’ first goal against Sunderland was the finish of a predator as he volleyed in a highly paced cross. He is not a bad player when the ball is being played in from wide areas as he can finish with his feet and his head.
The more direct play through the middle gave Torres more of an opportunity to hold the ball up and bring others into the game. He held the ball up much more efficiently which allowed others to make runs past him and allowed Chelsea to keep the ball moving forward as opposed to it going backwards.
These changes also ensure that Chelsea can maintain their system of playing one striker in attack and flooding the midfield with their creative players. They need to be direct because Torres doesn’t have the pace and trickery any more to beat central defenders.
Torres is a confidence player now more than ever and the first goal he scored was followed by a penalty which he would not have gone anywhere near if he didn’t feel confident enough to take the spot kick. It all bodes well for the rest of the season.