Tag Archives: Fernando Torres

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.

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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.