Why Fernando Torres Won't Start Ahead of Samuel Eto'o for Chelsea

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Fernando Torres might have started the season in Chelsea's lineup as the main striker, but the late arrival in the transfer window of Samuel Eto'o has put, at least for the time being, an end to the Spaniard's regular game time.

As per SportingLife.com, Torres remains convinced that he will be handed further opportunities to stake his claim to being the No. 1 striker at the club.

We have great strikers and all of us are going to score goals. It's nice to have this competition. The season is going to be long like the last one. There'll be time for all of us to play in important games and score some goals. The match against Swindon was my first 90 minutes since the Bayern Munich game in the [Uefa] Super Cup. Sometimes you don't realise you haven't played 90 minutes for a couple of games until you feel so tired at the end.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Samuel Eto'o of Chelsea tracks back to put a tackle in on Fulham's Steve Sidwell during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Fulham at Stamford Bridge on September 21, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Cha
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Torres' confidence in his own ability is commendable and doubtless he will start games from time to time for Chelsea, but as far as being the established starter goes, it's entirely likely that this particular ship has already sailed.

No longer the on-the-shoulder striker that he was at Atletico Madrid and, most notably, Liverpool, Torres has evolved into a forward who instead has to rely on contributing to buildup play, creating space for other attackers from the second line and, when possible, trying to recapture some of that acceleration and control to take him away from defenders.

He's not, even if he starts 30 matches a season, going to be a 20-goal-a-season striker any more.

In fact, since Torres joined Chelsea in January 2011, he has managed a paltry 15 Premier League goals in 85 Premier League games; close enough to a one-in-six striker, never mind anything even close to a goal every other game.

As a link forward, an attacker to drop deep and leave spaces for the likes of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Andre Schurrle to exploit, then he faces an altogether different problem: that's the kind of forward Eto'o is, too—and he's better at it than Torres.

Eto'o was also a poacher in his prime, but stints at Inter and Anzhi have seen him operate in a more withdrawn role; wider in Italy and deeper in Russia.

His penalty-box predatory instincts might take a little time for the goals to start flowing and therein might lie the best chance for Torres—or Demba Ba, for that matter—to stake his claim with a couple of goals off the bench.

The issue there, of course, is the No. 9's strike rate; he simply hasn't shown during his spell with Chelsea that he can be a reliable source of goals in the league.

Chelsea's next run of games in the league sees them take on Spurs, Norwich and Cardiff, with away Champions League ties at Steaua and Schalke alongside.

Rotation will be a feature of Mourinho's team selections at times but, more often than not, Torres shouldn't spend too long looking for his name in the striker's role.