Villas-Boas wants strikers to step up in Torres' absence

Updated: 25 September 2011 12:00 IST

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has challenged his strikers to stake their claim for a regular place in his team while Fernando Torres serves his three-match ban.

Villas-Boas wants strikers to step up in Torres' absence
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London:

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has challenged his strikers to stake their claim for a regular place in his team while Fernando Torres serves his three-match ban.

Spain international Torres scored his second goal in as many matches, but was also sent off as Chelsea beat Swansea 4-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The red card triggers a suspension that covers the Blues' matches against Bolton, Everton and QPR and Villas-Boas wants Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge to seize their opportunity.

"We have four wonderful strikers and all of them are playing well. All of them compete for a place in this 4-3-3 system," Villas-Boas said.

"I'm not sure how many games Fernando is away for but it will open up opportunities for the other three to challenge for the position."

After a miserable run of form, Torres has been under pressure to justify the £50 million British record transfer fee that Chelsea paid Liverpool in January.

Until now he has been devoid of confidence and, more importantly, goals.

He scored against Manchester United but was also guilty of missing an open goal.

If that grated with the striker, then worse was to come against Swansea as his 29th-minute goal was subsequently overshadowed by his red card 10 minutes later.

Torres was being well-marshalled by Swansea captain Garry Monk until he found some space to put Chelsea in front with a neat shot on the turn past Michel Vorm.

It was a cool finish from a man under pressure and he celebrated like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

There was more relief around Stamford Bridge as Ramires added a second goal in the 37th minute.

Torres was involved as he passed to Ashley Cole, who cut in from the left wing before teeing up Ramires, who slotted home.

It proved to be Torres's last meaningful contribution as he was sent off by referee Mike Dean for a two-footed lunge on Mark Gower in the 39th minute.

Dean did not hesitate to show a straight red card for the challenge that took place on the half-way line.

Villas-Boas refused to condemn the striker but nonetheless admitted Dean made the right decision.

"On the sending off, I have nothing to say. It looks to be a good decision from the referee," Villas-Boas said.

"The challenge was just in the nature of the game, it was one of those things and the referee has decided like that.

"It is a pity because the game was becoming a spectacle for us and for the fans, but in the end it is what the referee decided and we had to adjust to it.

"Fernando has not said sorry, there was nothing to apologise for. It was the referee's decision."

Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers, who once worked as Chelsea's youth team and reserve coach, also felt Dean got it right to show Torres his first red card in English football.

"Torres was the right decision, but more for intent than actual contact, which was minimal," he said.

Ramires added his second and Chelsea's third of the match with a neat finish from Jose Bosingwa's pass before Ashley Williams headed home a consolation goal for Swansea.

It was deserved as they had battled hard in patches but there was still time for a fourth for 10-man Chelsea, as substitute Drogba netted on the turn from Florent Malouda's pass.

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