Villas-Boas confident Torres can end famine
Gary Cahill is set to make his Chelsea debut against Swansea tonight after Andre Villas-Boas decided to rest John Terry with a view to this weekend's visit of Manchester United.
Frank Lampard was also left in Surrey yesterday when Chelsea travelled to Wales, to ensure he has recovered from his calf injury by Sunday.
Ramires is out of both games after suffering medial ligament damage at Loftus Road last Saturday. With John Obi Mikel injured as well, Michael Essien could make his first start of the season tonight.
Cahill joined Chelsea more than two weeks ago but has had to wait for a start as Chelsea have kept four successive clean sheets. He is expected to partner David Luiz at the Liberty Stadium.
Villas-Boas said that Terry had "a bone oedema (fluid on his knee) that he has been carrying since he collided with a post when making a goal-line clearance against Portsmouth (on January 7), and this stops him a little bit. It's nothing serious but something to keep an eye on. He has had an MRI before and he should be okay for Manchester United."
Although he will not be playing in Swansea, Terry is still unlikely to attend court tomorrow for the pre-trial hearing into the charge that he used racist language towards Anton Ferdinand. His counsel is expected to enter a plea of not guilty and the case will be adjourned for six to eight weeks.
Tonight marks the anniversary of Fernando Torres' £50m transfer from Liverpool and he will desperately hope to mark it with a goal.
Despite recent signs that the old, dangerous, effervescent Torres is returning, the Spaniard has not scored in the Premier League since Chelsea last played the Welsh club -- back in September.
That was his third goal for Chelsea, and more promisingly his second in as many games, having scored at Manchester United six days prior.
However, Torres was then dismissed for a lunging tackle, missed three games through suspension and, aside from a brace in October's Champions League thrashing of Genk, has not scored since.
His tally is now five goals in 43 matches for Chelsea. The Liberty Stadium, where Swansea have conceded six goals in 11 home fixtures, does not seem the obvious place for Torres to end his latest drought but Villas-Boas is optimistic.
The Chelsea coach said: "I think we are seeing a player growing in terms of form. Eventually we expect goals from it, and we hope those goals will come back. For the kind of effort he is doing, eventually it will be repaid."
Villas-Boas admitted four months was a long time to wait for another league goal, but the Chelsea boss insisted: "At the moment that is the reality, but he has been helping the team. Fernando has one of the most assist totals for other players in the club, so he is producing for the team."
With the Ivory Coast of Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou through to Saturday's Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals, Torres will get at least the next two matches leading the attack.
Chelsea have scored only twice in the last three matches, including Juan Mata's lucky penalty against QPR last Saturday.
Interestingly, Villas-Boas has included Lucas Piazon, the exciting 18-year-old Brazilian who can play as an attacking midfielder or second striker, in his squad.
The Chelsea manager had hoped to sign another Brazilian, Lucas Moura, who, like Piazon, is from the Sao Paulo club, before the transfer window closes tonight but that has proved impossible to complete in time.
However, it is believed Chelsea will return in the summer with a bid for Lucas, who would cost in excess of £30m.
Chelsea are also in talks to sign Nottingham Forest's Patrick Bamford. A £1m bid has been made for the 18-year-old striker, who has played just 12 minutes of senior football.
Liverpool and Arsenal are also interested in the Forest teenager and a deal may be completed today.
Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers, formerly a Chelsea coach, may recall Alan Tate, who has not played since breaking a leg in an accident involving a golf buggy in August. He cannot play Josh McEachran as the loanee is not allowed to play against his parent club.
(© Independent News Service)