Juan Mata is adamant Fernando Torres will eventually come good for Chelsea after watching the £50million man fail to take advantage of his long-awaited recall.
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Torres endured another day to forget in Monday’s 1-1 west London derby draw against Fulham, his first Barclays Premier League start for almost two months.
Manager Andre Villas-Boas appeared to have hand picked the match for the most expensive player ever transferred between British clubs to rebuild his shattered confidence.
But apart from a decent volley he hit straight at goalkeeper David Stockdale and a clumsy assist for Mata’s opening goal, Torres looked as lost in a Chelsea shirt as he had ever done since January’s record-breaking move from Liverpool.
Mata insists it will only be a matter of time before his fellow Spaniard and good friend justifies his transfer fee in earnest.
"Fernando is working hard every day in training and, for sure, the goal arrives soon," Mata said.
"Fernando always has the goals and, for sure, for Chelsea he has to score a lot of goals."
It remains to be seen whether Villas-Boas persists with Torres for Saturday’s visit of Aston Villa but Chelsea are running out of games before Didier Drogba departs on African Nations Cup duty.
The weeks Drogba is away in January and early February looks set to be Torres’ big chance to play himself back into form.
Villas-Boas recently rubbished reports Chelsea were running out of patience with the 27-year-old but they can ill afford to carry a passenger during that period, despite Villas-Boas all but conceding the title on Monday.
A hat-trick of 1-1 draws has put the Blues’ top four spot back in jeopardy and they will drop out of the Champions League places if Arsenal beat Wolves on Tuesday afternoon.
Mata said: "It is going to be very difficult because there are lot of teams and they are having very good seasons, like Arsenal, like Tottenham, like Liverpool, so we have to fight.
"Our next game is another that we have to win but Aston Villa is a very good team.
"We wanted to achieve the six points in our two home games but against Fulham we got one, and we hope to win three points against Aston Villa."
Villas-Boas has repeatedly declared he has the full backing of billionaire owner Roman Abramovich but the Russian is unlikely to tolerate a failure to finish in the top four.
Guus Hiddink is still lurking in the background as a readily-available replacement after Anzhi Makhachkala on Tuesday appointed Yuri Krasnozhan as their new manager.
For now, Villas-Boas will be given funds to continue his reshaping of the side, with Gary Cahill set to be his first January signing and at least one more new arrival expected.
Florent Malouda could be the next player to leave after declaring he would be prepared to go due to his limited playing time.
He has already been linked with Paris St Germain, whose new manager is former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti.
Fulham could also see comings and goings in the transfer window, with Bobby Zamora heavily linked with moves to Sunderland and QPR.
The Cottagers performed well on Monday without their injured talisman, whose relationship with manager Martin Jol has reportedly become strained.
Zamora will be desperate to get back playing, with a place in England’s European Championship squad at stake.
Team-mate Stockdale was also hoping to gatecrash the trip to Poland and Ukraine following his heroics on Monday.
The 26-year-old, who has been called into the England squad several times this year, said: "Every time I get called, it’s exciting – I’m just going to play for every squad and not look too far ahead.
"It’s not about England at the moment – it’s about me cementing my place in the Fulham team."
Stockdale was recalled by Fulham this month from a season-long loan at Ipswich after Mark Schwarzer became injured and he added: "I got a good run on loan at Ipswich and I’d like to thank them for that and hopefully it’s all part of me doing well for Fulham.
"I’ve just got to keep going and play for as long as the manager puts me in."