Cech backs 'settled' Torres to end struggle for goals

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The Independent Football

After seven months that have felt like seven long years to most Chelsea fans, the itch of Fernando Torres' dire form is finally being scratched, according to his team-mate Petr Cech.

Torres, who started ahead of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka at Stoke on Sunday, showed glimpses of his Liverpool form, and while a goal was perhaps too much to ask, his performance in the 0-0 draw at least went some way to making less laughable the £50m fee Chelsea paid back in January. The improvement, says goalkeeper Cech, results from the Spaniard being fitter and more integrated.

"It has made a huge difference that he had a pre-season with us," Cech said. "It is difficult when you come for such a huge amount of money to a different team, a different city. There was a lot of pressure and he had some injuries as well."

The evidence for Cech's statement can be seen in Torres' goal record last season: 11 goals in 27 Liverpool appearances followed by one in 19 in the blue of Chelsea. "It was not the ideal situation for him," continued Cech, "but you can see he was settling well every week, but now he has got to know the players, the way we play... He had a really good game against Stoke. He deserved to get a goal, he was close on a few occasions and created space and chances for the others."

Nevertheless, it was another game without a goal for a man paid to score. With Drogba cutting a brooding figure on the bench, and Anelka another potent option for the new manager, Andre Villas-Boas, Torres must start hitting the target soon or risk waiting until Drogba and Salomon Kalou depart to play in the African Cup of Nations in January for his next chance.