Just a Mata of time for Torres

Torres endured another day to forget in Monday’s 1-1 west London

derby draw against Fulham, his first 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 Saint-Germain, whose new manager is former

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti.