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He used to be the man whose every touch was central to thousands of Merseysiders’ dreams but tonight Fernando Torres could inflict a final dose of misery on Liverpool this season.
The Chelsea striker will return to Anfield for the first time since he left for £50million in January 2011 but, judging by the reception he has received at Stamford Bridge from Liverpudlians, there will be no heartfelt salute from the Kop to their former hero.
Torres, who is expected to start the clash, may point to an FA Cup winner’s medal — achieved with a win against his former club at the weekend — and a looming appearance in the Champions League final as vindication for his decision but what hurt Liverpool fans most was the fact that he never gave Kenny Dalglish’s reign a chance.
Which begs the question: how will he celebrate if he scores this evening?
Liverpool need a victory to prevent this campaign going down as their worst at home since 1948-49 and also to avoid the prospect of suffering their lowest-ever finish and points haul in the Barclays Premier League.
When he was in his pomp, Torres used to relish this fixture and had a haul of seven goals in eight games against Chelsea, including two at Anfield in November 2010.
John W Henry, Liverpool’s principal owner, was in the crowd for that game but neither he nor chairman Tom Werner will attend this match having returned to America following Liverpool’s FA Cup defeat.
That they continue to remain tight-lipped about their plans for the summer adds to the sense of unease and some will wonder if this is going to be Dalglish’s final match in the dugout.
Defender Daniel Agger believes Liverpool’s failure to complete a domestic cup double will be a source of eternal regret. ‘It will haunt us, yes,’ said Agger. ‘I don’t know why we played as (badly) we did for the first 60 minutes. But we didn’t turn up and you cannot afford to do that in an FA Cup final. Nobody remembers the runners up.’
Meanwhile, Petr Cech will be rested by Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo. Hilario, whose last appearance for Chelsea was in the 3-1 win over Norwich in August, is expected to deputise.
Although Di Matteo is resting Cech, he has picked a strong squad in a bid to sneak into the top four.
Didier Drogba, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole have all travelled. Daniel Sturridge, who was on the bench for Chelsea’s FA Cup final win, is expected to start. – Daily Mail