Liverpool reunion awaits Torres
Liverpool could discover just how much they may miss Fernando Torres should the Spain striker make his debut for Chelsea against his old side on Sunday just days after completing a £50 million move.
Liverpool make the trip to Stamford Bridge, having effectively used the Torres cash and more to sign club record signing Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez for a combined £57.8 million. Liverpool may have enjoyed something of a resurgence under Kenny Dalglish, having won their last three games with clean sheets to move up to seventh place in the Premier League table.
But that still leaves them nine points adrift of Chelsea and a whopping 19 adrift of leaders Manchester United - something that's tough to take for Liverpool's loyal followers who remember the glory years of the mid 1970s and 1980s. However, it's now more than 20 years since Liverpool were last crowned champions of England and to some the only surprise was that Torres stayed as long as he did on Merseyside.
Even so, the 26-year-old's words on joining Chelsea would have stung Liverpool fans. "Chelsea are the kind of team I want to play for," Torres said. "They are one of the biggest teams in Europe and are always fighting for everything. The target for every footballer is to play in one of the top-level clubs in the world and I can do it now."
Dalglish, arguably Liverpool's greatest forward and now in his second spell as manager, did not rise to the implied suggestion the team he has served with such distinction was no longer a world-class club. "I don't know what he has had to say since he joined (Chelsea) - I only knew what he said when he was here," said Dalglish. "I don't know whose gain it is (in the transfer dealings) and neither will anyone until years have gone by."
The injured Carroll may still be waiting in the wings for a while yet but Uruguay striker Suarez scored on debut after coming off the bench in a 2-0 win over Stoke on Wednesday.
Chelsea meanwhile signalled their intent to close on United by spending a combined £75 million on Torres and Brazil defender David Luiz, who arrived in west London from Portuguese giants Benfica.
The duo joined too late to feature in Wednesday's 4-2 win against Sunderland but both men could play against Liverpool and Chelsea captain John Terry told the London Evening Standard: "To sign Torres and Luiz is a huge statement. It has let everyone know we're in the market again, we're buying and competing with Manchester City, who have been spending an awful lot."
England centre-half Terry added he was glad Torres was now a team-mate, rather than an opponent. "He is one of the strongest out there. His pace is frightening, his heading is unbelievable for his height and his finishing is top drawer, as we have seen against us a few times."
United, in their first match since veteran full-back Gary Neville announced his retirement with immediate effect on Wednesday, will be firm favourites to extend their so far unbeaten league run this term to 25 games against bottom of the table Wolves at Molineux in Saturday's late match. Arsenal can cut United's lead, temporarily at least, to two points if they win away to Newcastle before the leaders kick-off.
Sunday sees West Ham, who moved off the bottom of the table with a 3-1 win away to Blackpool in midweek face a Birmingham side who are above the relegation zone on goal difference alone despite denting Manchester City's title ambitions in a 2-2 draw last time out.