Stoke City boss Tony Pulis believes that Fernando Torres is back to his best after seeing his side rattled by the Chelsea striker in a goalless draw on Sunday.
The Spaniard came under fire last season after he moved from Liverpool and struggled to replicate the form that he had showed in his three years at Anfield. But the 50 million pound man stood out at the Britannia Stadium, where he started ahead of Didier Drogba.
Pulis, whose side earned a point through the heroics of goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, told reporters that he was not surprised that Torres was handed a start by Andre Villas-Boas after seeing him closely in preseason.
"I watched the game at Rangers last week and I thought he looked like he was when he first went to Liverpool," Pulis said. "He caused us all sorts of problems today. He was very, very good."
The Stoke manager also had plenty of praise for the Chelsea squad as a whole, with Villas-Boas able to bring on three senior stars in the second half as the Blues had their opponents on the ropes.
"The first half I think we gave as good as we got," Pulis said. "It was quite an open game without really many clear cut chances and second half they got a foothold in the game, and it was there for everybody to see the quality that they've got and the depth that they've got when you see Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba and Yossi Benayoun coming off the bench."
Pulis went on to predict that Chelsea would be in on the title chase once again this season.
"They've got the squad to do well," he said. "They'll be in the top three again."
Stoke had not only Begovic to thank for a point, but the experience of summer signing Jonathan Woodgate, who made his first league start in over a year.
And Pulis was keen to highlight the importance of the former Tottenham man to his squad.
"I just think he's been fantastic since he's come into the club," Pulis said of his defender. "That's the third clean sheet now we've got and he's played a big part in it. He'll be a great role model for the other players in the team. When you look at Begovic, who is 21-22, [Marc] Wilson is 21-22, Wilkinson is in his early 20s, [Robert] Huth is even early 20s, and then we've got [Ryan] Shawcross alongside him who is only 22. We need experience. Matty Upson and Woody [Woodgate] will do that. They'll give us depth and experience that these kids will learn from."