Fernando Torres will be the headline act at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as Chelsea’s new £50 million striker makes his Blues debut against former club Liverpool. The Spaniard’s departure left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Reds fans who once idolised him, some of whom burned their No. 9 shirts outside Anfield, and Torres’ assertion that he has now joined “one of the top clubs in the world” will ensure he receives a hostile reception from the away support.
Just how Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti slots the striker into a team that has suddenly found form with three stylish Premier League victories on the bounce, following a dire run of just one win in nine games, will be intriguing, but the thought of Didier Drogba in tandem with the World Cup winner is a mouth-watering prospect for Blues fans.
It was a brace from Torres that handed Liverpool victory over Chelsea back in November and now Ancelotti, who has confirmed his new striker will play, will be hoping to harness that firepower to revive his team’s title challenge, starting with three points against Liverpool.
However, under returning manager Kenny Dalglish the Reds are undergoing a similar revival and just one month on from the horror of the Roy Hodgson era the club have climbed up to seventh place in the Premier League – also with a run of three consecutive victories – and have their own big money striker who’s eager to make his mark.
While £35 million forward Andy Carroll – purchased from Newcastle United on transfer deadline day – will not be available due to his long-standing thigh strain, £22.7 million Uruguay striker Luis Suarez will be aiming to steal Torres’ limelight.
The former Ajax forward, who scored an amazing 81 goals in 110 games for Ajax, has already found the back of the net for his new club, coming off the bench to seal a 2-0 victory over Stoke on Wednesday, just 48 hours after completing his switch to Anfield.
Dalglish opted to play Dirk Kuyt as a lone striker for that match because Suarez had not even trained with his new colleagues, but the World Cup quarter-finalist proved his fitness against the Potters and is set to start against the Premier League champions.
The Dutch league has spawned many free-scoring stars who have struggled to cut it in the Premier League and a goal against Chelsea would begin to edge Suarez into the success category, alongside the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, rather than the group of flops such as Mateja Kezman and Afonso Alves.
Chelsea player to watch: Fernando Torres – We could tell you to watch somebody else but trying to ignore the hullaballoo that surrounds the £50 million Spaniard will be virtually impossible. Torres has not been in top form for over a year and if he instantly hits his stride in the blue of Chelsea then it will call into question the attitude of the stroppy striker during his latter days at Anfield.
Liverpool player to watch: Raul Meireles – Kenny Dalglish took the shackles off this all-round midfielder and he has begun to deliver the quality that helped FC Porto win four Portuguese titles. Meireles’ ability to be creative from a defensive midfield role has become key to Liverpool’s upturn in fortunes and the £11.5 million summer signing is also on a goalscoring streak, having netted three times in the last four matches.
Key battle: Frank Lampard v Steven Gerrard – Suarez and Torres might be getting all the attention but somebody needs to provide a supply line and that responsibility falls to these two. It took Lampard a while to get back to his old self following a long injury lay-off but eight games into his return and the Chelsea midfielder is firing on all cylinders and back on the goal trail, scoring four in the last six games. Liverpool’s captain fantastic, Gerrard, is on something of barren run in comparison but he is certainly a man for the big occasion. Whoever wins the battle of the England colleagues will go a long way to deciding the match.
Trivia: Luis Suarez is nicknamed the ‘Cannibal of Ajax’ in the Netherlands after he was suspended for biting the shoulder of PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal.
Stats: Chelsea’s attacking trio of Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres have scored a combined total of 281 Premier League goals between them.
Make your predictions!!!! Who is going to win this one, because they are a lot of points to prove with this match. Chelsea bought liverpool’s most priced asset and after Manchester United lost to Wolves, chelsea will be up and on doing on this one