Hodgson: Torres happy at Anfield
Roy Hodgson insisted Fernando Torres is content at Anfield after the Spain striker's stunning two-goal performance sealed a 2-0 win over Chelsea.
On the evidence of Sunday's rampant display, Torres has recovered from the malaise that has afflicted him for much of the year as he doubled his Liverpool goal tally for the season. His performance also maintained the recent resurgence of Hodgson's side, who stretched their unbeaten run to five games in all competitions and recorded a third consecutive Premier League victory.
"We speak all the time. He wants the club to do well. He wants to see we're moving in the right direction," said Hodgson of his relationship with Torres, who has now scored 60 goals in 79 career starts for Liverpool. We were all in a situation wondering what the future would be during the takeover but, like myself, he can see a positive future here.
"He likes being at Liverpool and playing for Liverpool. I don't have any fears for the future as far as he's concerned, as long as we can get back close to the top of the table where Liverpool belong. On this form, his performance was right up there with his best, it was an excellent performance. Fernando Torres is a vital player for Liverpool; he would be for any club. You can't have success without players doing that job for you up front.
"Hopefully, Fernando will look back and say that, even though like the team I didn't start brightly, I ended up having a great season. I'm pleased with the all-round performance and that Fernando will get the plaudits.
"He's taken his fair share of criticism, some of which has been exaggerated, but people will now say he's back to his best. Let's hope that's the case, but certainly today it was. Chelsea have had a lot of success with their quality front players, and Liverpool have with Fernando. Hopefully we're getting back to that."
Torres himself was non-committal when asked whether he feels he has returned to his lethal best. "It's been difficult to know that," he said. "It was a tough end to the season for me, difficult in the World Cup, I had a lot of injuries, it was difficult training every day.
"Every game I am feeling better, improving every day. I don't know if I can play at my best soon or later. I'm sure I will do my best to do it as soon as possible. It's part of a footballer's life being criticised. Playing for a team like Liverpool, everyone is watching everything you are doing around the world a minute later. I know the expectations, I am ready to fight and get my form."
Judging by the massive improvement shown by not only Torres but his team as a whole since the disappointment of losing at home to Blackpool and surrendering tamely in the Merseyside derby against Everton last month, Liverpool's opponents need beware.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti paid tribute to Liverpool for their performance, although he refused to expand upon his disappointment at the way his own team played in the absence of midfield lynchpin Michael Essien, out with a foot problem. Essien's injury must be worrying for Ancelotti considering Frank Lampard looks set to miss Wednesday's visit of Fulham to Stamford Bridge as he continues to recover from hernia surgery and a groin problem.
"All their players played for the team and for this reason they deserved to win," Ancelotti said. "Torres scored two fantastic goals and he showed he has come back fit from a bad time moment. He is a fantastic striker. I think Liverpool have the opportunity to come back to the top of the table and for fourth place and I think they can fight for this.
"I don't want to say too much (about Essien's absence). I think the squad was very good and played well in the second half but sometimes this is football. We will not have Lampard for Wednesday, but I hope for the next game against Sunderland."