Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has warned Premier League defenders he is still not yet back to his best despite two brilliantly-taken goals securing victory over Chelsea at Anfield.
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The Spain international, who has struggled for form this season after an injury-plagued first seven months of the year, certainly looked close to his lethal old self against the league leaders.
He expertly controlled Dirk Kuyt’s cross to fire home in the 11th minute and, just before half-time, added a second after cutting inside right-back Branislav Ivanovic to curl an inch-perfect second beyond goalkeeper Petr Cech.
By doing so he doubled his tally for the season and although four goals in 13 games is well short of what is expected he is confident he can rediscover his customary sharpness and deliver on a more regular basis.
"It’s been difficult for me with injuries but I am training every day and every day feeling better and improving," he said.
"I don’t know if I can play my best soon – but I will as soon as possible. I know the expectation I have but I can handle that."
Keeping Torres fit and on form is crucial to Liverpool’s ambitions this season, which – after moving up to ninth and within five points of fourth-placed Manchester City – remain qualifying for the Champions League again.
Confidence has certainly been lifted after wins over Blackburn, Bolton and now Chelsea but the Spaniard admits they cannot afford to ease up in forthcoming matches against Wigan, Stoke, West Ham and Tottenham.
"We have to keep winning. We have won three games in seven days but we have to forget that now and keep getting points," he added on Sky Sports.
Manager Roy Hodgson has, for the last few weeks, been insisting the 26-year-old was approaching his best even without the goals to back it up.
So he was delighted to see his striker to make it three goals in the last three games.
"I pleased with the performance and I’m pleased Fernando will get the plaudits because he’s taken his fair share of criticism, some of which has been grossly exaggerated and certainly not fully deserved," said the Reds boss.
"When the team is not winning it is hard to defend those things but today people will say he is back to best and let’s hope that is the case.
"One always hopes that playing at this level in the Premier League you have that quality of front player.
"Chelsea have had a lot of success with their front players and Liverpool have had a lot of success with Fernando.
"It is nice now we are maybe getting back to that."
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti – who had to restrict his own star striker Didier Drogba to 45 minutes in the second half because of illness – acknowledged Torres’ quality.
"He scored two fantastic goals and he showed he was fit and has come back from not a good moment. He is a fantastic striker," said the Italian.
Ancelotti admitted his side paid for a finely-balanced first half in which Liverpool seized the initiative and then held on.
"We didn’t play quickly in the first half; we didn’t have time to build play from the back and we didn’t have the possibility to find space in the opponent’s half," he said.
"Liverpool defended very well in the first half and counter-attacked, scoring two fantastic goals.
"For us it was very difficult to get back in the game. The second half was better when we played with strong intensity and had opportunities but it was not enough because Liverpool defensively played well for 90 minutes."
On Drogba he added: "Drogba had a fever last night and was not 100% fit so I decided to play him for just one half of the game."