BENITEZ: FINE-TUNING FERNANDO
If selected to face his former club this afternoon, Fernando Torres will be targeting his 20th goal of the season, and Rafael Benitez has spoken about work carried out with the striker at the training ground to raise his game.
Torres has three goals in his last three starts, all against Russian side Rubin Kazan in the Europa League, and the Blues will need whichever centre-forward plays at Anfield to be effective in front of goal as we seek Premier League points to take us back above Arsenal into third.
'Torres was training in the gym with Paco De Miguel, our fitness coach, doing special plans when we arrived and now you can see that he is stronger and he is sharper,' says Benitez
'He was doing some weights and some specific exercises, but also some finishing with Bolo Zenden and Steve Holland, so a lot of extra work because he was keen to do it.
'When you play two games a week it is not easy but he had this specific plan with us at Liverpool, so because he knew the fitness coach as soon as we arrived at Chelsea he started doing little bits of this specific work.'
Torres enjoyed a good run of goals in December, with seven that month before Christmas, but Benitez acknowledges that a barren spell for goals that followed affected the players all-round game.
'When he was scoring a lot of goals we had two or three training sessions, trying to improve some movements and his confidence, and he was doing well,' says he Spaniard.
'Afterward he was not scoring too many goals and he lost a bit of confidence, but as soon as he started scoring goals you could see the confidence was back and you can see he is quicker now.
'It is not just the physical condition, he was improving a little bit of everything. The finishing, the movements and the tactical approach were a little bit different and we were trying to adjust things that were good for him and also for the team.
'I think that he is coming back to his level and you can see his contribution to the team is bigger every game.'
Benitez believes the knowledge the centre-backs across the land now have of Torres makes it more difficult for him than when he first arrived in England, but even though Liverpool's defenders had plenty of chance to study him, that alone will not affect striker selection today.
'If Liverpool play Carragher, Agger or Skrtel, they will know Demba Ba really well and they will know Fernando Torres the same way,' he says. 'I don't see a difference in terms of knowledge of the other players.'