In this time, he has played in 104 games in all competitions and scored 26 goals. While the return of one goal every four games is problematic, more of an issue is the impact that Torres’ goals, or lack of, has on the rest of the team.
The statistical picture: Chelsea have played 120 games since he joined the club in January 2011. They have won 62 (51.7%), and scored 233 goals (1.9/game).
Those 26 goals have come in 20 of the 104 games the Spaniard has appeared in. In those 20 games, Chelsea have won 17 of them, with the draw at Barcelona and defeats against Man United and Man City making up the other three. This season, the only time Chelsea have failed to win a game in which Torres scored was the Community Shield game against City. Over the course of Torres’ Chelsea career, this means that the Chelsea winning percentage in games in which he plays, and scores, is 85%. On top of this, the club have scored 78 goals in those 20 games (3.9/game).
This means that Torres has not appeared in 16 games over his Chelsea career. In those games, the winning percentage is 56.3%, with 2.2 goals per game scored. This means there is not a dramatic difference between winning percentage in games in which he has appeared and games in which he hasn’t.
Where the numbers get interesting is when you look at the games in which Torres has appeared, but not scored. There have been 84 of these, but there have been only 36 wins (42.9%), with 1.4 goals per game scored. This seems to suggest that while Torres playing in a game is not a firm indicator of the likely result, so far in his career it is clear that Chelsea need Fernando Torres to score goals if they are to win matches – though if he were to appear less often, it would be interesting to see how the win stats were affected.
On top of this, when looking at the opponent and match situation in which Torres has scored, there is more for Chelsea fans to be concerned about. Torres has scored the only goal for Chelsea in one match so far in his time at the club: in the 3-1 away defeat against Man United in September 2011. He has never scored either the winning or deciding goal. The closest he came to this was scoring the second at the Nou Camp, which while guaranteeing Chelsea qualification for the final was not vital for that outcome, as they would still have won on away goals. The other important goals he has scored are the first goal at Arsenal earlier this season and the first in the 3-2 home win over Shakhtar Donetsk
Otherwise, he has scored a lot of his goals in games where the result was either already decided, for example: his hat-trick against QPR (the 3rd, 4th and 5th Chelsea goals in a 6-1 win), the 2nd and 3rd in a 5-0 win over Genk, the 2nd and 4th in a 6-1 win over Nordsjælland, or the first goal in games where Chelsea went on to win comfortably: 8-0 over Aston Villa, 4-1 over Norwich for instance.
These are the concerns that grow out of the numbers: can Torres be relied on to score important goals against big teams? Not really. Can he be relied on to score the deciding goal in a close game? No.
There is a real problem at Chelsea currently with their £50m striker. He is not scoring regularly or against decent defences. At the moment, he is fast becoming a flat track bully, capable of netting against poor or already beaten defences, but is no longer the game changing centre forward he was during his time at Liverpool. He cannot be relied on to do something on his own or make a chance out of nothing in a big game – something which his predecessor Didier Drogba was especially good at, even when otherwise ineffective or playing poorly.
It seems that Torres will be staying for the rest of this season, and will be competing with Demba Ba for the lone striker role. In the summer though, it would be in the best interests of both the club and the player for him to be moved on to a club where he is not playing under the pressure of his price tag, his goal record, or lack thereof, or of the crowd growing tired of a lack of improvement in his performance after two seasons. Until the end of this season, though, it will be interesting to see if he can hit form again and whether or not that form will appear in any of the important games for the club. I doubt it, but we shall see.