Chelsea Vs Liverpool, Sun 6 Feb 2011

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Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Essien, Lampard, Anelka, Torres, Drogba.

Subs: Turnbull, David Luiz, Malouda, Ferreira, Kalou, McEachran, Sala.

Liverpool: Reina, Skrtel, Carragher, Agger, Kelly, Lucas, Meireles, Johnson, Gerrard, Maxi, Kuyt.

Subs: Gulacsi, Aurelio, Suarez, Jovanovic, Kyrgiakos, Ngog, Poulsen.


Fernando Torres has promised Chelsea fans he is on the brink of recapturing the form that made him arguably the best striker in the world.

Torres is set to make his debut for the Barclays Premier League champions in the much-hyped meeting with the club he controversially quit on transfer deadline day, Liverpool.

Having been rated by many as the the world's number one centre-forward during his first two seasons at Anfield, the 26-year-old endured an injury-hit 2010, which saw him struggle to maintain that level of performance.

He was widely regarded as a passenger during Spain's World Cup triumph and appeared disinterested in the eyes of some observers during Roy Hodgson's doomed Liverpool reign.

Torres insists he was always fully committed to the Anfield cause and that any dip was due to a lack of match fitness and confidence.

The appointment of Kenny Dalglish as manager provided a boost in the latter department and Torres' last four games for Liverpool saw him net three times.

The £50million man said: "In the last two months, I've been playing, if not at my best, close to my best.


"I expect to be a bit better for the rest of the season. Last year, was difficult with two surgeries on my knees.

"I needed time to recover. I did."

Manager Carlo Ancelotti is still to decide whether to throw Torres in at the deep end against his former club or start him from the bench.

It is a similar story for Torres' ex-team-mate Jamie Carragher, who was an unused substitute in Liverpool's midweek win over Stoke after two months out following shoulder surgery.

A lifelong Reds fan, Carragher this week refused to pander to the shirt-burning brigade by insisting he held no grudge against Torres for jumping ship.

Torres said: "Hopefully I can play, and he can too.

"I would like to play against him because he's a top player.

"I like playing against the best, as I liked to play against (John) Terry and (Rio) Ferdinand.

"I'm expecting a hard game. I know he's a big Liverpool fan. As a footballer, I'm sure he understands my decision.

"Plenty of my ex-team-mates have congratulated me for this move."

While Ancelotti may ease Torres in from the bench, he admits it makes no sense to spend #50million on a long-term substitute.

"We bought Fernando obviously because we want him to play for us," he said.

"Not just this game, though. There are a lot of games in his future and he will score a lot of goals."

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina prepares to face Torres insisting he is not bitter about his compatriot's Anfield exit earlier this week.

Reina said Torres' decision did not matter now to Liverpool, repeating the mantra instilled by manager Kenny Dalglish that no-one is bigger than the club.

"It is football. It happens season after season, players come and go," said the goalkeeper.

"Fernando was great for us in three and a half seasons. He did everything for this club.

"Maybe he did not leave at the right time but it was an opportunity for him and #50million in the bank is double the price which we paid for him.

"It is personal he decided to leave, he thought it was an opportunity for him to keep growing as a player and we have to respect that.

"Some of the people are saying now he is being disrespectful to Liverpool but in my eyes what Fernando gave to Liverpool was huge.

"He grew up with Liverpool and Liverpool, as a team, grew up with him.

"Players come and go on a daily basis but what stays is the club and the supporters - that is the most important part to the club."


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