'Critics don't have any clue': Rafael Benitez defends Fernando Torres

Spanish striker failed to find the back of the net once again

Interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez accused Fernando Torres' statistics-obsessed critics of being clueless after the striker's dry January continued against Arsenal.

Torres failed to score for the seventh successive match - his longest barren run of the season - in yesterday's 2-1 win at snowy Stamford Bridge.

Once again, the effort was there from the £50million enigma but there was little sign of improvement in front of goal, with the reaction of supporters to his 81st-minute substitution for Demba Ba once again telling.

The pair's respective goalscoring records reflect poorly on Torres, who was arguably defended more staunchly yesterday by Benitez than ever before.

"Fernando was doing a great job," he said.

"Afterwards, Demba gave us something we didn't have before.

"These people who like to quote stats and stats, they don't have any clue about what is going on.

"When you have one striker for a month and a half and cannot change, it's more difficult for the striker.

"When you have now two strikers, you can manage."

Fatigue could certainly be one factor hampering Torres' performances and Benitez admitted the striker was not the only Chelsea player running on empty by full-time yesterday.

Juan Mata was another, while Frank Lampard and Ramires were both forced to play 90 minutes due to an ankle knock picked up by David Luiz and John Obi Mikel's African Nations Cup absence.

Luiz's injury also meant fewer options in defence but Benitez resisted the urge to hand captain John Terry his first start since November.

Benitez said: "He has to play, but you cannot play him in these kinds of games because, obviously, you have to play at home and you play high and it's more difficult for him if he has not this match fitness."

Benitez admitted Terry would also have a fight on his hands to reclaim his place, adding: "Every player here has to compete for his position and that is the good thing for the team and for me as a manager."

Yesterday's win helped Chelsea cut the gap at the top of the Barclays Premier League to 11 points.

Benitez has already written off a title challenge but winger Mata, who opened the scoring yesterday, refused to be drawn on the issue.

The 24-year-old insisted his only focus was on overturning a 2-0 deficit against Swansea in Wednesday's Capital One Cup semi-final second leg.

"The clever thought is just thinking step by step," he said.

"We have to be focused just on the next game, which is now Swansea away.

"We have to score three goals at least to get through to the final and that's our aim now."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders