Ivanovic: We always had faith in Torres
Branislav Ivanovic has insisted Chelsea's players never doubted Fernando Torres would come good after the £50m man took the biggest step yet towards ending his nightmare start to life at Stamford Bridge. Torres netted his first double for the Blues since his record-breaking January move from Liverpool in last night's UEFA Champions League thrashing of Genk, taking his tally to four goals from his last four club appearances.
His previous two strikes this season against Manchester United and Swansea had been marred, respectively, by one of the worst misses in Barclays Premier League history and the Spaniard's first red card in English football. And although he might easily have had a hat-trick against an injury-ravaged opposition, last night's 5-0 win was easily Torres' most trouble-free outing in a Chelsea jersey.
Defender Ivanovic, who joined his fellow 27-year-old on the scoresheet with his first goal of the season yesterday, said: "I always said there is no question about Fernando Torres because he is really great. He showed every day his professionalism on the training ground, how he is working hard for the team and everyone is really happy when the ball comes to him. As a team, we expect more goals from him this season. It is important to have the big squad and the big players who can decide games. Fernando showed his quality in his play and how he will fight for the team. We are happy with that."
Torres' goals came after he was touched by team-mate David Luiz before kick-off in a gesture that looked very much like a religious blessing or an attempt at hypnotism. It was, apparently, something aimed at bringing luck to the team rather than Torres personally, and may be used again in Sunday's game at QPR. Not on Torres though, with the striker serving the final instalment of his domestic three-match suspension.
The trip to Loftus Road will almost certainly witness recalls for John Terry, Didier Drogba and Juan Mata, all of whom were rested last night. Chelsea were unable to cope last season when their biggest names were not in the side, but their 2011 recruitment drive has given them a squad that bears comparison with any since Roman Abramovich bought the club.
Ivanovic said: "For us, we play every game with three, four, five new, fresh players. This is important. At the beginning, it was very difficult to see how the changes were going but now it is okay. We have great options up front and it is important for all of the guys to be ready for the competitions and always show their best on the pitch to get the best results for the club. We started the season with everyone fresh and motivated. This is going to be the key for this season. The motivation is most important."
Ivanovic refused to get carried away with Chelsea's start to the season, which has seen them pick up the same number of Premier League points as the same stage last term - a campaign that famously saw them fall away. "We have the confidence. We are growing up as a team every game," he said. "But this season is long and you have to be ready and play like this performance every game, which is very hard. We will try to do this all season. We have a very big London derby game and, after that, we go game by game. The games against Arsenal and Liverpool will show how good we are as a team for this season. I think we have grown up as a team every game, but this is the biggest test."