Tag Archives: Fernando Torres

Premier League Rewind: 28th-30th April 2012

Results: Everton 4-0 Fulham, Stoke City 1-1 Arsenal, Sunderland 2-2 Bolton Wanderers, Swansea City 4-4 Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion 0-0 Aston Villa, Wigan Athletic 4-0 Newcastle United, Norwich City 0-3 Liverpool FC, Chelsea 6-1 Queens Park Rangers, Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United

For months, every football supporter had been building up to the showdown in Manchester. It was billed as the title decider as the two giants from the city clashed on Monday 30th April 2012. Manchester United had the three-point advantage going into the match. Manchester City had restored their title push with three successive victories; whilst United had recently lost to Wigan Athletic and thrown away a 4-2 lead to draw 4-4 at home with Everton. The stakes couldn’t be any higher.

Naturally, the game itself wasn’t an all-time classic with so much to gain and lose in both camps. The only goal came on the stroke of half-time. David Silva’s corner was met by a towering header from Manchester City skipper, Vincent Kompany. The Belgian climbed highest to put the home side infront.

City held on in the second half to go top of the Premier League table on goal difference. 1-0 was the final scoreline and with two games to go, the destiny was back in their control as the leadership changed hands for the 11th time in this enthralling battle. Sir Alex Ferguson had seen his Manchester United side throw away an eight-point lead in the space of 22 days.

17 points further back, Arsenal led a tight battle for third position and the final automatic UEFA Champions League qualification place. Arsene Wenger visited one of his bogey grounds – The Britannia Stadium and left with another point added to their total. Robin van Persie equalised Peter Crouch’s opener as Stoke and Arsenal shared the points in a 1-1 draw. The Stoke supporters made fun of Wenger in the second half as he bitterly complained to the fourth official about Stoke’s physical style. Even BBC Match of the Day host Gary Lineker joined in during his amusing closure to that weekend’s highlights.

Tottenham Hotspur kept the pressure on by beating Blackburn Rovers 2-0 at White Hart Lane. Kyle Walker scored a spectacular free-kick and later that evening, he would be crowned the PFA Young Player of the Year for the 2011-2012 campaign, whilst Van Persie won the PFA Players’ award. Newcastle United lost vital ground after a first half shocker away at Wigan Athletic. Wigan led 4-0 at half-time, through two goals from Victor Moses, Shaun Maloney and Franco di Santo. That was how the final score ended and added Newcastle to a list of recent conquests for Roberto Martinez that included Liverpool FC, Manchester United and Arsenal.

Wigan swapped places with Queens Park Rangers who were now only outside the bottom three on goal difference. QPR were dismantled 6-1 at Stamford Bridge by Champions League finalists Chelsea. It was one of Fernando Torres’ best days in a Chelsea shirt. The Spaniard scored his only Premier League hat-trick for the club. However, it was becoming very likely that Chelsea were going to have to win the final in Munich against Bundesliga heavyweights Bayern Munich to qualify for next season’s competition.

Bolton Wanderers drew level on points with QPR and had a game in-hand too after coming from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Sunderland. Kevin Davies scored both of the goals. There was another hat-trick hero at Carrow Road as Luis Suarez tormented the Norwich City defenders. The Uruguayan scored his first hat-trick for Liverpool FC as the Reds recorded an impressive 3-0 victory, ending Norwich’s hopes of finishing above the men from Anfield in the table for the first time since 1993. It wouldn’t be the first time Suarez would score a hat-trick against the Canaries either. He would repeat the feat in future seasons to come.

What else happened in April 2012?

  • The centennial anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic is marked around the world.
  • James Murdoch resigns as Chairman of BSkyB in the wake of the News International phone hacking scandal.
  • The 158th University Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge is stopped mid-race due to a swimmer in the water. Cambridge would end up winning after a later clash of oars at the restart leaves Oxford with a broken paddle.
  • Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is found guilty on 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Sierra Leone Civil War.
  • The Metropolitan Arts Centre opens in Northern Ireland.
  • The UK economy returns to recession after shrinking by 0.2% in the first three months of the year.
  • April 2012 in the UK is the wettest in over a century according to figures released by the Met Office.
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Premier League Rewind: 23rd-25th April 2011

Results: Manchester United 1-0 Everton, Aston Villa 1-1 Stoke City, Blackpool 1-1 Newcastle United, Liverpool FC 5-0 Birmingham City, Sunderland 4-2 Wigan Athletic, Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Fulham, Chelsea 3-0 West Ham United, Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers 0-1 Manchester City

The 2010-2011 Premier League season had been one of the most unpredictable campaigns for many years. With five games left to go, nothing was settled. Manchester United were six points clear but not totally comfortable yet in terms of the title picture with an ever-improving Chelsea bearing down on them. Meanwhile at the bottom, just six points covered Fulham, Stoke City, Sunderland, Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic, Blackpool, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers. It really was too close to call.

Manchester United opened up proceedings on 23rd April with a brief opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the table to nine points. They played Everton in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off and were pushed all the way by a stubborn David Moyes. They were eventually broken down by Javier Hernandez in the last 10 minutes. 1-0 was the final scoreline and another giant leap towards a record-breaking 19th title had taken place. United had dropped just two points at home all season and that was a proud statistic that would hold up in their remaining two matches.

On a wet and torrential evening in west London, Chelsea knew they needed to win against bottom-placed West Ham United to keep the pressure up on Manchester United. As they still had to travel to Old Trafford to play the Red Devils, hope still existed for Carlo Ancelotti’s side and they made no mistake here, dispatching the Hammers 3-0. The most exciting moment of the match was Fernando Torres scoring his first goal for the club after 734 minutes. Torres had struggled to match the form he’d demonstrated at Liverpool FC and it was clear this goal was a massive weight off his shoulders.

If Chelsea still had title hopes, they had completely diminished for Arsenal. They had won only one of their past six matches and another defeat; 2-1 to Bolton Wanderers dashed any faint hopes they had of catching the leaders. Arsene Wenger’s side had shown major fragilities after their last-gasp League Cup final loss to Birmingham City in February. There was a poignant moment here too. Bolton’s stoppage-time winner was scored by midfielder Tamir Cohen, who removed his shirt and dedicated the goal to his father Avi, who had been killed in a traffic accident in December 2010.

Manchester City strengthened their grip on fourth place and the final UEFA Champions League qualifying spot after a Monday night 1-0 victory away at Blackburn Rovers. January signing Edin Dzeko scored his first goal for the club. They extended their lead on closest challengers Tottenham Hotspur to four points after Spurs dropped points at home to West Bromwich Albion. Simon Cox scored the pick of the goals in a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane.

At the wrong end of the table, the big winners were Sunderland. After four successive defeats, a 4-2 victory over Wigan Athletic eased their concerns and moved them seven points clear of danger with four games left to play. That result plunged Wigan back into the bottom three with Blackpool climbing out after a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United. Birmingham’s 5-0 defeat at Anfield to Liverpool FC left them very vulnerable with Maxi Rodriguez scoring his first of two hat-tricks in 16 days.

What else happened in April 2011?

  • Prince William and Kate Middleton marry at Westminster Abbey. An estimated two billion people watch the wedding.
  • The 20-1 shot Ballabriggs wins the Grand National, trained by Donald McCain, son of former National trainer, Ginger McCain.
  • Channel 5 confirms it has bought the rights to TV show Big Brother and will screen it from August 2011.
  • Actor Brian Regan, best known as playing Terry Sullivan in Brookside from 1982-1997, is charged with the murder of a city bouncer in Merseyside.
  • The Daily Sport and Sunday Sport tabloid newspapers cease publication and enter administration.

Great Goals: Fernando Torres – LIVERPOOL FC vs. Sunderland (March 2010)

Liverpool FC struggled to fire in Rafa Benitez’s final season in the Anfield dugout but Fernando Torres continued to sparkle, even if injuries were beginning to take their toll on ‘El Nino.’

He shone especially against Sunderland with two goals in a comfortable 3-0 win for the home side. His first goal was what he was capable of in his absolute prime.

There seemed to be nothing on in the third minute. Torres was on the touchline and facing up to Michael Turner. Options were limited in the box, so the Spaniard decided to go for goal. He curled an unstoppable effort around Turner and the effort squeezed underneath the crossbar, leaving Craig Gordon without any chance of saving the strike.

Torres lit up The Kop with many special strikes but within a year, he was gone to Chelsea and never regained the form he demonstrated in his early LFC years.

Premier League Files: Juan Mata

Premier League Career: Chelsea (2011-2014), Manchester United (2014-PRESENT)

A graduate of Real Madrid’s youth academy, Juan Mata has become one of the Premier League’s most precise players. Full of skill and panache, Mata has been a fans’ favourite at both Chelsea and Manchester United. Whilst the ultimate prize of the Premier League title has eluded this super Spaniard, Mata has become an integral part of many Fantasy Premier League squads because many can count on a fair return of goals and assists from him.

Mata started to make a name for himself in his homeland with Valencia. In August 2011, Chelsea bought him from La Liga for £28 million. On his arrival in west London, he revealed that his international teammate Fernando Torres had played a significant role in bringing him to English football. He said: “Fernando got me excited about the thought of coming here. He said it would be good for me here and that he and I together could be good.”

Getting his favourite no.10 shirt on his arrival, Mata made an immediate impression at Stamford Bridge. He scored on his debut in a home victory over Norwich City and was a shining light in an inconsistent season for the team which led to the March sacking of manager Andre Villas-Boas. When Roberto di Matteo took over, he played Mata as a no.10 attacking midfielder rather than out on the left-wing. This produced even better performances. Mata won the Man of the Match award as Chelsea beat Liverpool FC in the FA Cup final and ended the campaign with 14 assists in the league and six goals. He was part of the squad that stunned Bayern Munich on Bayern’s own turf to win the UEFA Champions League. That was despite having a penalty saved in the shootout by Manuel Neuer.

His performances won him the Club’s Player of the Year award in 2011-2012. He was even better in 2012-2013. Mata was shortlisted for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, won the club’s individual prize for the second successive campaign and scored a ton of important goals. This included a late winner at Old Trafford against champions Manchester United. He added another honour to his collection with the UEFA Europa League. Unfortunately for Mata, his time at Chelsea was coming to a swifter end than he could have predicted.

Jose Mourinho’s arrival for a second spell as Chelsea manager would mean a frustrating first six months of the 2013-2014 campaign for Mata. Mourinho preferred to play the likes of Oscar and Ramires in more attacking positions as he valued their better defensive contributions. In January 2014, he moved to Manchester United for a club record fee at the time of £37.1 million.

His debut for the Red Devils’ saw an assist created for the opening goal against Cardiff City, scored by Robin van Persie. It did take Mata slightly longer to settle than he would have anticipated and two months before scoring his first goal for the club; in a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa in March. He ended with six goals at the end of the campaign.

Louis van Gaal arrived as David Moyes’ successor and it took Mata time to really establish himself at Old Trafford. The arrivals of Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria put his place in doubt but towards the end of the 2014-2015 season, he had emerged as United’s creative spark. In March 2015, the club travelled to Anfield for a crucial match with Liverpool FC. The two were fighting it out for a top-four finish in the Premier League and Liverpool had the momentum following a lengthy unbeaten run. On this day, Mata was unplayable.

He ghosted past Alberto Moreno for the opening goal inside 10 minutes. His second goal was voted as the Goal of the Month for March. He produced a spectacular and fantastic bicycle kick from the edge of the area to leave Simon Mignolet stranded. The goal even got a usually unemotional van Gaal out of his seat. Manchester United won the game 2-1 and Mata has said since this was his best performance for the club.

In May 2016, he won the FA Cup for the second time in his career, scoring the equaliser in the final against Crystal Palace. Further goals in 2016-2017 followed against the likes of Watford, Arsenal and AFC Bournemouth as Mata once again proved his critics wrong and showed he could play a crucial role at the club for Jose Mourinho – the man who had so easily discarded him at Chelsea.

Great vision, many assists and plenty of skilful moments, Juan Mata has been a serial consistent player for the past six seasons and I’m sure more is to come from him in the 2017-2018 season.

Iconic Moments: The craziest deadline day (January 2011)

Transfer deadline day has become a nationwide event for football fans since the introduction of the August and January transfer windows from the 2002-2003 season onwards. There have been some intriguing days like Arsenal’s signing of Mesut Ozil in August 2013 and Dimitar Berbatov’s last-gasp switch to Manchester United five seasons earlier.

But there were fewer mad days in the transfer market than the one that played out on Monday, 31 January 2011. Over £100 million was spent on three strikers, with Liverpool FC, Chelsea and Newcastle United playing the leading roles.

There was a big departure from Anfield. Star striker of the past three and a half years, Fernando Torres decided to leave the club. Days earlier, the Spaniard had handed in a transfer request which was initially rejected. Eventually, a deal was agreed that saw Torres move to Chelsea for a British transfer record fee at the time of £50 million. A lot of LFC fans were very upset by Torres’ comments in the aftermath of the deal going through. Shirts were burned outside the ground as their former idol had moved on, saying “This is the target for every footballer – to try to play for one of the top clubs in the world.” 

Although he did go on to win the silverware he craved such as the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League in 2012, Torres never fully settled at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool fans never really forgave him until an appearance at Steven Gerrard’s testimonial three seasons later. He is now back in Spain playing for his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid.

That wasn’t the only business conducted at Chelsea. Brazilian defender David Luiz arrived from Benfica for £26.5 million and not the end of the drama either at Liverpool. As El Nino checked out of Merseyside, the Reds were busy pulling off their own double striker swoop.

£22.8 million was paid to Ajax for the controversial but exceptionally talented Luis Suarez and £35 million was exchanged with Newcastle for Andy Carroll – a club record fee. Like Torres, the transfer fee seemed to weigh too much on Carroll. His 18-month spell was an unhappy one and he eventually moved onto West Ham United in August 2012. On the other hand, Suarez lit up Anfield with many spectacular performances. Despite racism and biting controversies which led to suspensions totalling 19 matches, his spectacular goals nearly guided the club to a Premier League title in 2014 before departing for Barcelona in a £75 million transfer.

Other moves saw Birmingham sign Obafemi Martins on-loan, Bolton add Daniel Sturridge to their ranks from Chelsea, Tuncay depart Stoke City for the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg and Blackpool add four players to their relegation scrap. Charlie Adam stayed put despite a late bid from Tottenham Hotspur.

In total, Premier League clubs spent over £200 million in the 2011 January window and deadline day in this window remains the craziest and probably best window of this era of transactions in football.