Can the Return of Fernando Torres for Chelsea Ease the Burden on Eden Hazard?

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2014

Double-scorer Chelsea's Fernando Torres congratulates his teammate Eden Hazard after scoring their side's third goal during the Champions League group E soccer match between FC Schalke 04 and Chelsea FC in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Spare a thought for Chelsea's title rivals.

Just when it seems Jose Mourinho's Blues are taking control of the title race, they appear to be getting stronger as key players return from injury.

Mourinho confirmed ahead of the trip to The Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday that Fernando Torres is fit again and ready to play a part.

How much of a role the Spaniard will play against the Baggies remains to be seen, but his return is significant, coming at a vital period in the Premier League title race.

Mourinho is doing his best to play down Chelsea's chances of claiming English football's ultimate prize this season, although everything is beginning to fall into place at Stamford Bridge.

Sang Tan/Associated Press

Eden Hazard is in the form of his life, looking every bit a £32 million player and living up to his billing as the "world's best youngster" in the words of his manager.

Now Torres is fit again after a three-week layoff, bolstering Chelsea's options in attack.

In contrast, Manchester City are suffering a goal drought by their own high standards, not scoring in their previous two outings and losing ground to the Blues as a result. Arsenal, meanwhile, face Manchester United this week, a massive game coming on the back of a 5-1 thumping at the hands of Liverpool at the weekend.

Indeed, it must feel good to be Mourinho right now.

Torres may not have been his prolific best at Chelsea since his move to West London three years ago, but there have been times when he has scored vital goals at vital moments.

Last season being a case in point, with goals throughout Chelsea's Europa League charge that culminated in his wonder strike against Benfica to help seal back-to-back European trophies.

He has been good for a goal or two this term, also, scoring the winner against Manchester City in October to win a vital three points, while his goal against Southampton on New Year's Day unlocked a stubborn Saints rearguard. The Blues eventually went on to win that game, 3-0.

Right now Hazard is the star attraction in West London—and for good reason. His performance against Newcastle United on Saturday has sent out a considerable warning message to the remaining 13 teams Chelsea face in the Premier League between now and the end of season, but he isn't going to have it all his own way.

Scott Heppell/Associated Press

The Belgian is more a marked man now than ever he has been. Whether he is man-marked, given two markers or simply targeted for some "special" treatment from opposition defenders, he's going to learn a lot over the coming weeks about what it takes to remain at the top of his game.

Hazard will try no doubt, but he isn't going to win the Premier League single-handed. No, he needs the burden to be eased, and Torres should be the man to do just that, along with Samuel Eto'o, who scored his first Blues hat-trick himself not so long ago.

The clock is ticking on the 2013-14 Premier League and Torres' return is right on time.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes.