Lampard fancies Torres to ‘fly’

More than 15 hours since he last found the net for club or country,

Torres began to repay his record-breaking £50million price tag

when he helped the Blues beat West Ham 3-0 on Saturday to keep

their slim Premier League title hopes alive. The Spain striker’s

goal sparked unforgettable scenes at a sodden Stamford Bridge as he

was mobbed by every one of his outfield team-mates, including

Lampard. After going 732 minutes and 13 appearances without scoring

since joining Chelsea almost three months ago, Torres had been in

danger of being branded the most expensive flop in football

history. Midfielder Lampard applauded the way his new team-mate had

handled the huge pressure on his shoulders and warned Saturday’s

goal was just the beginning for the 27-year-old. “A world-class

striker comes with a massive price tag,” said Lampard, who opened

the scoring against the Hammers. “You can’t change quality and you

can’t change a world-class player. We’ve seen it with him in his

career and nothing changes. “He’s a quiet lad, he’s not opened his

mouth. If he’s been on the bench, he’s come on and not said

anything. “It was always going to be a matter of time and I think

now you’re going to see him fly, whether it be the last few games

of this season or next season.” Saturday’s game was the third in

succession Torres had been forced to start as a substitute, with

manager Carlo Ancelotti deciding he could not risk leaving out the

in-form Didier Drogba. But the Italian insisted he had never

doubted Torres would come good. “I never lost the confidence in his

ability and skills because he is a fantastic striker,” he said. “I

said a lot of times that we have to be patient because it was a new

club for him, he needed to take time to know better our play, to

know better his team-mates. Now is a good time for him to show his

quality.” Ancelotti revealed afterwards he would spend the coming

week attempting to get Torres and Drogba into the same team,

despite their failure to strike up an understanding when they have

previously played together. He added: “They don’t have a problem to

play together.” Chelsea’s victory moved them back to within six

points of leaders Manchester United, who beat Everton in the

lunchtime kick-off. Lampard and Ancelotti both admitted the

champions’ hopes of retaining their title rested on the next

fortnight, which sees United travel to Arsenal before hosting the

Blues at Old Trafford. Lampard said: “We can only win the title if

we win all our games and Manchester United drop points. They’re in

the driving seat and we can only do what we can do and that

includes going to Manchester United. “We’ve got a huge game against

Tottenham next week. If we can win that then Manchester United

might slip up against Arsenal. Then we can do it. “We’ve got to

keep our heads straight and keep doing our own thing.” Ancelotti,

who should discover on Monday the extent of the muscle injury that

saw Michael Essien limp off, added: “In the next 15 days, there is

Chelsea-Tottenham, Arsenal-Man United, Man United-Chelsea. I think

there will be decided the title.” West Ham’s fate is unlikely to be

sealed in the next fortnight, despite Saturday’s defeat seeing them

end the weekend back on the bottom of the table. Other results went

their way to ensure they stayed two points adrift of safety ahead

of next Sunday’s trip to Manchester City. They blew their chance to

snatch at least a point at Stamford Bridge while the game was in

the balance and manager Avram Grant said: “Because of our position,

sometimes the players, when they come to a chance, are not so

relaxed. “We need to continue to create chances but the percentage

of using chances is not so good for us.” He added: “The players

give everything and, of course, there’s pressure because they want

to stay in the league. They think and I think we deserve to play in

this league. This is pressure but we need to play with this

pressure. “There are other teams also with this pressure.”