Blues boss backs Torres to fire

Blues boss backs Torres to fire

Published Jan. 16, 2012 7:15 a.m. ET

Saturday's Premier League game against Sunderland saw Torres produce arguably his best performance at Stamford Bridge since his £50million move from Liverpool almost a year ago, with the striker desperately unlucky not to have netted the winner.

That honour went to Frank Lampard, who was happy to admit afterwards his goal owed everything to what Villas-Boas hailed as an "amazing" scissor-kick from Torres, which crashed back off the underside of the crossbar, against Lampard and into the net.

Luck also deserted Torres when he was denied two penalty claims, the second even seeing him booked for diving when he appeared to have been tripped.

But there seems no doubt the 27-year-old, who has not scored in the league for almost four months, is benefiting from the run in the side he has been given as a consequence of Didier Drogba's African Nations Cup participation.


"He's still not scoring but is ever so close to scoring, which is already good," said Villas-Boas, who felt one goal could be the trigger for a glut to follow.

"Could happen. We will have to wait and see.

"Maybe a goal would help on the personal, inspiration level but we are not worried because he is doing well.

"Obviously, his confidence is improving and his form is improving."

Villas-Boas felt sure Torres' luck would change provided he maintained his current level of performance.

"It's down to luck when things like this happen," he said.

"Of course, a goalscorer gets goals.

"But he's very willing to change his fortune and I think the goals will come."

Chelsea were not exactly short of luck yesterday, keeping only their second clean sheet at home in the league all season after Sunderland squandered several chances to equalise.

"There have been games at Stamford Bridge which looked to be going our way with a win and they have gone to a draw with the most unpredictable things," Villas-Boas said.

"It's good to hold on under such pressure and get a good result. With the weekend's results, it was a good three points."

Indeed, Chelsea not only cut the gap to leaders Manchester City - who play on Monday at Wigan - to eight points, but they also closed to within six of third-placed Tottenham.

The Blues are still riddled with problems at the back, something that could be helped by Gary Cahill's arrival from Bolton.

"He has good technical abilities which is important in the way we want to play and to implement our philosophy," Villas-Boas said.

"Our passing philosophy in building from the back. He has speed of anticipation, is an English international of course.

"Competition will be tight for him but we brought him in to become better as a team."

With Michael Essien also making a surprise first appearance of the season after coming off the bench, things are looking up at Stamford Bridge.

"We are improving," Villas-Boas said.

"We have a very good group of players and hopefully we can continue to motivate and push their talent and that can take us to high places."

Sunderland's defeat was a rare setback for new manager Martin O'Neill, who has transformed the team's fortunes since his arrival a month ago.

"I hope the confidence doesn't get eroded," said O'Neill, who has lost none of his enthusiasm after more than a year out of the game.

Indeed, he admitted that it spilt over yesterday when he and his players took real exception to Torres' second penalty claim.

"I would absolutely prefer we didn't do it, unless something is absolutely blatant," O'Neill said.

"The referee has a hard enough job.

"I've kind of overreacted myself. I apologise for that.

"It looked from my distance as if he had dived in the penalty area.

"But, even so, I shouldn't be running around and pointing fingers at anybody, absolutely not."

Despite his apology, O'Neill admitted he was too set in his ways to change and revealed he was loving being back in the big time.

"In a perverse sort of way, yeah," he said.

"It's a great game and I missed it.

"I'm footballed out, believe it or not. I watched a lot of football.

"I know every single player playing in the Peruvian league.

"That should really help in the transfer market..."