Take Torres to top the charts

  • By: David John
  • Last Updated: August 14 2012, 9:58 BST

Fernando Torres: Set to relish leading the line


2pts e.w. Fernando Torres at 11/1 (Bodog 1/4 1,2,3,4).

1pt e.w. Mario Balotelli at 20/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3,4).

1pt e.w. Nikica Jelavic at 33/1 (Coral, Paddy Power 1/4 1,2,3,4).

Having had a pretty clear picture of who I wanted to tip in this preview over the last couple of seasons, the race for 2012/13 Golden Boot in the Premier League looks rather more complex.

Right now, no-one can be 100 per cent sure where last season's winner Robin van Persie will be playing his football - it seems likely to be Arsenal but both Manchesters or a possible move abroad has been the focus of the summer transfer rumour mill for the Dutchman.

The outcome certainly affects the dynamic of the market, be it welcoming new boys Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud at the Emirates, linking up with Wayne Rooney or becoming part of a sensational rotation of forwards under Roberto Mancini.

The whole uncertainty of the situation means that RVP can be backed at 11/1 with Bodog coming off his best-ever campaign in the top flight and a bigger price than he was at this stage 12 months ago.

Plenty of experts wrote off his chances due to an iffy past injury record and another high-class performer who has prematurely been consigned to the scrapheap is Chelsea's Fernando Torres.

I for one am not ready to give up on the Spaniard and this can be his time to finally come good at Stamford Bridge.

Few players have been hammered more by fans or in the press over the last 18 months and he has not lived up to his billing following that £50 million move from Liverpool - plain and simple.

The nadir probably came last September when he missed an open goal from six yards at Old Trafford and as the confidence ebbed away, there were times he looked like he would struggle to get into a half-decent Championship side.

But the rebuilding process has begun as Torres finished last season with a quality hat-trick against QPR in the same week he sealed his side's victory over Barcelona for a place in the Champions League final which was made all the more unforgettable by Gary Neville's 'unbelievable' commentary.

Chelsea went on to win that final and Torres also enjoyed more success in the summer as Spain retained their crown at the European Championships where he landed the Golden Boot in a photo finish.

Back to the domestic front, you get the impression that Torres is relishing the chance to take over as the main striking option following the departure of Didier Drogba.

He admitted in an interview that he wants the responsibility of leading the attack as it is something he has been doing all his life and with Drogba now out of the picture, he gets the opportunity at last to prove he is worth the money spent to secure his signature.

Roberto Di Matteo has certainly aided his cause no end with the arrival of Oscar and Eden Hazard to freshen up the midfield while it would not be no shock to see his link with the creative excellence of Juan Mata prosper further as the new season unfolds.

At 28, Torres feels he is now at the peak of his physical powers and is raring to go having had a nice break with his family since the Euros to freshen up.

Let's not forget either that 65 goals in 102 league appearances for Liverpool are the sort of returns the Spaniard is capable of and the stage is set for him to at last make the sort of impact we have all been waiting to see.

If picking Torres is seen as a roll of the dice then my next selection is even further from leftfield - Mario Balotelli.

The Italian revels in being one of the most controversial characters both on and off the field but I reckon he will develop into Manchester City's leading light in front of goal from the quartet of himself, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko.

The latest development has seen Roberto Mancini threaten to leave if a bid of £40 million from PSG is accepted, suggesting Balotelli will prove pivotal to City retaining their Premier League crown while boosting their performance in Europe.

"He is 21 and it is clear that he can improve," was Mancini's rather low-key assessment of a player who spent last season courting disaster on numerous occasions with red cards and confrontations with his manager.

But there were signs over the summer with Italy at Euro 2012 that the penny may finally be starting to drop while at the same time highlighting once again his tremendous finishing prowess.

If anyone is going to be able to harness Balotelli and channel his energies in the right direction then surely it will be fellow countryman Mancini.

And getting the most from him surely means giving him the starting nod up front in the early stages of the new campaign and an opportunity to show he can be relied on in what is a hugely important time for the blue half of Manchester.

I have a feeling Mancini wants to give Balotelli every chance to reach his potential despite all last year's shenanigans and at 20/1, he can vastly improve on his tally of 13 league goals.

The 2011/12 preview contained a speculative wager on Everton's Jermaine Beckford which went west early on with his transfer to Leicester but I have no issues returning to Goodison and putting up Nikica Jelavic at 33/1.

David Moyes has searched high and low during his tenure to find a regular goalscorer and he looks to have landed himself a real £5million bargain from Rangers at the end of the January transfer window.

Jelavic required no time to settle into his new surroundings and ended the season with a highly impressive 10 goals from nine Premier League appearances.

He then went on to hold his own in Poland and Ukraine with Croatia where the then national coach Slaven Bilic drew comparisons between him and the great Davor Suker.

Bilic described Jelavic as having no fear and full of confidence in his own ability with the potential to become one of the most important strikers in the English game.

With a full pre-season to work with Everton plus the return of Steven Pienaar to drive the midfield, I fully expect to see plenty more of the cool finishing from Jelavic we became accustomed to in the spring.

  • Preview posted at 0945 GMT on 14/08/2012.