By Jim Knight | Premier League Betting Expert
New Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas may be just 33-years-old but the former Porto boss has a £50million problem on his shoulders at Stamford Bridge. This rather large issue comes in the form (or lack) of Fernando Torres.
'El Nino' arrived from Liverpool in last season’s January transfer window with a hefty price tag and huge expectations from the Blues support. Apart from a couple of glimpses of brilliance he has largely struggled to make an impact in the Premier League since his transfer, netting just one goal for his new employers.
Whisper it, he may just be the new Andriy Shevchenko; and we don't mean the free-scoring Dynamo Kiev and Milan version. As if you had to ask.
Villas-Boas has a dilemma, with resident forward Didier Drogba suffering a serious injury which looks set to rule the Ivorian out for quite a while. In theory, the selection headache should be eased by having a player of Torres' calibre waiting in the wings.
Torres is a world class player without any doubt but he looked forlorn of confidence during his latter months at Liverpool. Amid claims of an on-going injury plaguing his performances, many fans and pundits are questioning whether he can reproduce the sparkling form that saw him win hearts and minds in the red half of Merseyside.
British bookmaker William Hill have reacted to the Spaniard's latest problems by producing a series of special markets for when he will score his next Premier League goal. Unsurprisingly, it is Chelsea's weekend opponents Sunderland (11/10) who attract the shortest price; and Torres has a fine record against the Mackems, with four goals in five games.
Torres First Goal Specials
Sunderland @ 11/10
Man Utd @ 7/2
None of these @ 4/1
Swansea @ 4/1
Bolton @ 9/1
Everton @ 14/1
William Hill Odds
If you fancy Torres to break his duck against champions Manchester United, he is a tasty 7/2 to find the net on September 18. That’s certainly a better price than you would get on him to score anytime against the Red Devils once the odds are released on that mouthwatering encounter.
Conversely, if his barren spell continues then 4/1 on him not to hit the net in any of the next five games could prove a tempting proposition. He's 14/1 to end his famine against former foes Everton on October 15.
In terms of total goals, Torres is a skinny 2/1 to score 6-10 goals in the league while 0-5 goals is just 11/4, a price which would have been unheard of a couple of season ago when he scored 14, 18 and 24 goals in different seasons.
If Torres can rediscover some form and notch 20 goals or more you could do worse than back the 8/1 on offer for 20+. More ambitious punters can back the currently misfiring forward to be the season's top scorer @ 14/1.
It’s going to be fascinating see if one of the world’s most expensive players can find his shooting boots, as the likes of Wayne Rooney and Edin Dzeko rack up the goals around him. If not then those Shevchenko whispers are sure to become full on screams.
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Jim Knight is a sports enthusiast and has been tipping football games since he was old enough to place a bet. He is a Leicester City fan, writer and member of the We Are Going Up Podcast
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