Chelsea 6 QPR 1: Lessons from a one-sided London derby
What did we learn from Chelsea's resounding 6-1 victory over Queens Park Rangers at Stamford Bridge on Sunday?
The Torres floodgates open
It may have taken Fernando Torres 34 Premier League games, but the Spanish striker is finally producing form reminiscent of his Liverpool days. The 27-year-old declared after his strike at Camp Nou that it was the beginning of a new era for him at Chelsea, and he carried on from where he left off with a hat-trick against Queens Park Rangers. The Blues have struggled to adapt to Torres’ style of play and his preference of pass, but Salomon Kalou’s first-time ball released the striker who evaded the on-rushing Paddy Kenny and rolled the ball into the empty net for the opener. It was the type of goal that Torres had grown accustomed to scoring at Anfield with his former team-mate Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard often the architect. His second was less spectacular, capitalising on shoddy QPR defending, and lashing the ball into the net before he completed his treble with a composed finish low into Kenny’s left corner to cap a perfect week for the Spain international.
Terry makes amends
John Terry’s performance against QPR was always going to be subjected to intense scrutiny. The Chelsea captain’s daft sending off against Barcelona – the centre-half needlessly kicked out at Alexis Sánchez earning a straight red – was rightly condemned. The 31-year-old apologised to his team-mates and Chelsea fans for his reckless act after that game. But to make matters worse, the Blues’ next opposition was QPR – Terry faces a court case on 9 July after it was alleged he racially abused Anton Ferdinand in Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat at Loftus Road back in October. However, in typical Terry fashion, he reacted in a positive manner after the midweek adversity, scoring the Blues’ second from a set-piece on Sunday. Back in January 2010, Terry was at the centre of another scandal involving an off-field matter with Wayne Bridge. And similarly to Sunday, he responded by netting the winner in a 2-1 victory at Burnley. Terry may have his flaws but a lack of mental strength certainly is not one.
Sturridge’s strike in anger
Daniel Sturridge was an unused substitute in both legs of Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final triumph over Barcelona. The 22-year-old was favoured under Andre Villas-Boas, and indeed was perhaps one of the Blues’ sole shining lights during a dark spell at Stamford Bridge, but Roberto Di Matteo’s re-instalment of the old guard has seen the former Manchester City forward drop to the bench. Sturridge still harbours ambitions of making England’s squad for Euro 2012, and if he wants to fulfil this aim, then he needs to score goals. The forward, facing his former manager Mark Hughes, unleashed a venomous strike within 50 seconds which flew past the helpless QPR goalkeeper Kenny. It was a statement to Di Matteo, interim England boss Stuart Pearce and whoever takes over the national side for this summer’s tournament – Sturridge is ready to fight for his place.
QPR’s torrid away form continues
Should Hughes’ side succumb to relegation, their manager will ruefully reflect on their woeful away form – QPR’s last victory came in 3-2 victory at Stoke City back in November. The Loftus Road outfit have only collected 11 points on their travels this season, and under Hughes only a point. If QPR had an outstanding home record then perhaps it would help to distract from their abysmal track on the road but Hughes’ side have thrown away points against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham. The Hoops have plenty of quality in terms of attacking options, with Djibril Cisse, Adel Taarabt and Bobby Zamora – but they are weak defensively, as Chelsea exposed. QPR goalkeeper Kenny was slow to react to Sturridge’s opener, while Shaun Derry and Clint Hill have failed to make the step-up to the top flight. Torres’ second goal summarised a disappointing game for QPR as Kenny and Nedum Onuoha failed to clear a routine Chelsea long ball, and Torres thrived on the confusion. Cisse’s late strike offered small consolation to what was an abject QPR performance.