Villas-Boas stands by Torres

Torres’ latest goal drought grew to 10 matches on Boxing Day as

Chelsea drew 1-1 in their west London derby against Fulham in what

was another blow to their increasingly-remote title hopes. The game

at Stamford Bridge must have seemed the perfect time to give Torres

a chance to play himself back into form ahead of Didier Drogba’s

January departure for African Nations Cup duty. But after some

positive early signs, including a volley the striker was unlucky to

hit straight at David Stockdale, Torres looked as lost as he had

ever done in a Chelsea shirt. Manager Villas-Boas pointed out the

Spaniard had set up Juan Mata’s opener, neglecting to mention that

was only because he had miscontrolled Ashley Cole’s cross.

Explaining Torres’ recall, Villas-Boas said: “We decided to bring

Fernando in. He’s been working well and he had an impact in the

game. “He worked well for the team, assisted Mata for his goal, and

showed the level of commitment he has shown in training.” He added:

“We don’t judge our strikers on the score. “We are one of the most

attacking teams in the country. We have a lot of goals spread out

among the team. “What is important is that they make an impact.

That is what we expect from them.” Villas-Boas all but conceded the

title on Monday, something which might have been the cue for Torres

to be given a run in the side without fear of it proving too

costly. But Chelsea simply cannot afford to keep throwing away

points because they are suddenly back in a real battle to finish in

the top four, with Arsenal knowing a win against Wolves on Tuesday

would lift them above their London rivals. Billionaire Blues owner

Roman Abramovich may yet forgive Villas-Boas not winning the title

this season but he is unlikely to tolerate failure to qualify for

the Champions League. “The difference between us and the top will

be big,” the Portuguese said. “We had reduced it to seven points

recently, but 13 points would be new for us. “With City and United

continuing to get the points they are getting at the moment, it’ll

be difficult. “That is the perspective we have to make at the

moment: it’s difficult. It’s not impossible. You cannot say that.

“But we have to focus on our position at the moment and make a real

assessment. Maybe the Premier League is over for us at the moment.”