I’m fully aware I’m stating the obvious, but this season could have been a lot different were it not for Fernando Torres. But I’m not going to bang on about the 27 goals in 36 appearances (with 20 in the league) or how amazing his accomplishments are for a player in his first season in English football.
I want to focus on one thing. Pundits have a tendency to pontificate about ‘game-changing’ players, as they have about Gerrard for years now. Fernando Torres has been the epitome of a game-changing player.
Torres has scored the winning or equalizing goal in nine of Liverpool’s games this season. Nine games that could have gone a different way were it not for Liverpool’s #9.
4-2 Reading (League Cup) 09.25.07: Torres notched a second half hat-trick, his first for the club, after it was 1-1 at halftime.
2-2 Spurs 10.07.07: A last minute header rescued a point at Anfield.
1-0 Fulham 11.10.07: With 20 minutes to go, Torres came on in his first game back from injury with the game tied 0-0. Ten minutes later, he latched onto to a route 1 ball from Reina. Liverpool ended up winning 2-0.
2-1 Porto 11.28.07: After 45 minutes with the score 1-1, in a game that Liverpool had to win to keep hopes of progression from the group stage alive, Torres broke the deadlock, turning past Stepanov to fire home in the 78th minute (he also scored the opener). Liverpool scored two more in the last ten minutes to finish 4-1.
1-1 Boro 01.12.08: In a game where the team struggled, during the shaky stretch where Liverpool couldn’t buy a break, a superb strike from distance in the 70th minute earned a needed point.
3-2 Boro 02.23.08: Torres’ second hat-trick for the club, scoring all three goals in a 3-2 win.
1-0, 2-0, and 3-0 West Ham 03.05.08: A second straight home hat-trick, in a match he was rumored to miss due to illness, before Gerrard added a fourth in the 83rd.
1-0 Inter (CL) 03.11.08: Another quick strike counter attack, and Torres’ 61st minute goal sealed qualification for the quarterfinals.
2-1 Reading 03.15.08: The most recent heroics. After Liverpool gave up another soft early goal and Mascherano had equalized, Torres’ second half header won the three points.
While three of those matches have been in the last two weeks, he’s been doing it all season. And this doesn’t take into account games like Chelsea and Wigan at Anfield, where Torres scored the opening goal only for Liverpool to concede an equalizer.
It can be shown with a number of stats from this campaign and it’s easy to ramble in praise of him, so to make a long story short, El Niño is simply special.