The Fernando Torres Dilemma

Fernando Torres fitnessWe are all aware that Fernando Torres is by far and away the best striker on the Anfield books. In fact, when in the groove, he’s better than pretty much anyone, and has proved that to be the case since his arrival on Merseyside. Because of this obvious superiority he has over the other Liverpool striking options, his lack of fitness and form, give Roy Hodgson a genuine dilemma over whether an out-of-sorts Torres is still his best option.

Managers will always want their best players on the pitch, but sometimes we have to ask how wise a decision it is, when they are clearly not in the right state of mind, nor body, to produce what is asked of them. We only have to look at England’s turgid display on Tuesday where upon Wayne Rooney continued to show the country that he is not the same player of last season. Capello was in fact in a strikingly similar situation to that of Hodgson this weekend. Had the likes of Darren Bent, Jermaine Defore et al been available, he could have started them against Montenegro. Capello subsequently decided that an out-of-form Rooney is still a far better player than a Kevin Davies in the form of his life.

And thus, Roy Hodgson must now decide how unfit Torres has to be to not be as good as David N’Gog (who will surely take Torres’ position should the Spaniard not start). Torres has been declared fit to play after his latest injury – an abductor muscle against Blackpool – and we have been promised that he is getting back to what we know he is capable of. Hodgson said:

“Fernando’s season needs to kick-start, he’s been hampered a bit by injuries and what happened at the World Cup.

“We see a livelier and a better Fernando every day. It was really unfortunate he got that injury against Blackpool but luckily it came in the international break so he won’t miss any more league games for us.”

Torres may be livelier, and better than what we have witnessed so far this season, or at the World Cup, but we can be certain he will not be at the absolute top of his game.

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Calling this game big would be an injustice of the highest (court) order. As if derbies of the Mersey weren’t contested enough, the blue side has finally figured out that the Premier League season has indeed started. And then there is of course the very public debacle in the High Court this week; victory for common sense looks much closer to being realised, and yet there are still issues over rival bids. Much will depend on whether the players can use the weeks’ events to exert some sort of 90-minute pride-restoration. What a win at Goodison would do for the club, and for a season that has spluttered in such an abject form.

Much has been made about Torres’ preference for scoring at Anfield, rather than on his travels, but he still a man for the big moment, just ask Nemanja Vidic. Faces looking upon Anfield with Toffee-tinted glasses will have been thankful that another poor start has been totally blown apart by what has been happening at Liverpool. And yet, both sets of players that start on Sunday must forget everything that has happened thus far. In my opinion, Torres should be one of those players. It is time to put so many issues of the last few weeks to bed.

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