In Football365’s recap of Sunday’s United-Chelsea match (which was aired for free on Fox—thank you, thank you, thank you), Sarah Winterburn put it nicely: “He’s a striker and he’s not scoring goals. You don’t have to blessed with the expertise of Alan Shearer to realise that part of the problem is his reluctance to put himself into a position where he might miss. Or even score. Imagine that.”
She was writing, of course, about Fernando Torres, or “Fernandon’t Scorres” to those following the match on twitter. (Thanks, @AnfieldMatt, for that gem.) Yes, Torres’ drought continues, and Chelsea fans should be angry about conceding three goals in about a half an hour, but there were bright sides to this draw as well.
One, while Torres didn’t score, he did set up one of the goals quite beautifully, and he does force defenders to mark him closely, opening lanes for other players—something which no player in any sport seems to ever get credit for (cf. Allen Iverson). The Torres-Mata partnership should prove to be very productive, if today’s match is an accurate preview.
Two, Chelsea remain in the top four with the point, and, unlike United, are still alive in the Champions League, which will allow them more revenue, more recruiting potential, and more confidence in the future. What’s more, there’s no real way for Monday’s Liverpool-Spurs match to affect the Blues that poorly; a Tottenham loss helps slim the gap with the third-place Lilywhites, a Liverpool loss eases the pressure from those at the gates, and a draw means that neither team makes any significant progress, ameliorating Chelsea’s 3-3 draw with United. Win win win.
And three, Chelsea may have gone a long way to winning over some American viewers with a passionate three-goal showing on national TV. Not that Chelsea needs any more fans, per se, but considering that some of the “plastic faithful” were leaving the stadium when the game was tied, some extra insurance couldn’t hurt.
Summing it all up, Winterburn again put it well: “We have to give Chelsea some credit for making sure there wasn’t a fourth – the home fans leaving before the final whistle clearly thought it was coming and so did we. …Wayne Rooney was right to talk of ‘two points lost.’ It might feel like a win to some fans in the immediate aftermath of the game but this was not a great United performance and it’s far from being a great result.”
The Guardian’s Dominic Fifield offered similar consolation to Stamford Bridge, and instead of emphasizing United’s poor showing highlighted Chelsea’s sliver lining: “Yet this squad are well into a process of rejuvenation, a revamp that will gather pace in the summer. In that context, to witness the hosts conjure a three‑goal advantage, and even threaten to run riot in the early stages of the second period, offered promise of better times ahead.”