Let's face it Fernando Torres' Chelsea career has been mixed at best. He has not shown the qualities which were expected of a £50 million striker, although this season there were signs he is coming to life.
Including the Community Shield he began with three goals in his opening four games for the club, but after an ill-timed international break disrupted his form, the goals have flowed somewhat slower.
Since and including the European Super Cup defeat to former club Atletico Madrid, Torres has just two goals in 11 games, all starts. Supporters have begun to get a little frustrated, the player himself too, as shown by his petulant attitude when substituted.
Perhaps the Falcao hat-trick and ensuing talk about bringing the Colombian to the club knocked his confidence suddenly, brought him back down to earth that his time as Chelsea's top striker could be limited and made him more anxious as a result.
Either way, the club need him to step up now and prove his worth. Chelsea have big games coming up and Torres will be expected to score in each. If he can he will answer his critics.
The games begin tonight, when Chelsea host Shakhtar Donetsk, in a match they simply can't afford to lose. The Ukrainians triumphed on their home turf last time out, and Chelsea need the three points if they are to avoid real risk of suffering the embarrassment of being eliminated at the Champions League group stages as champions.
The Blues next game in the competition is away to Juventus in Turin, and with Shakhtar topping the group at present by three points, it will likely decide which of Chelsea and the Italian champions qualify for the next phase.
Torres simply has to put in a real shift in each, and will look to come away with a goal. He is the main man now, and no longer has to worry if he will be picked, and when he will be hooked if he has not scored. He never gelled with Didier Drogba, and these games on the biggest stage of all are now his chance to make his mark.
In between is a mouth-watering fixture at Stamford Bridge this weekend when Chelsea face his former club Liverpool. Torres' very first games for the Blues was this exact fixture, and it is not one which went well. This time he will attempt to prove to his former fans he is flourishing in his new surroundings.7
Are these games more important than the Champions League Final? Not in terms of prestige, but as to what effect they will have on Torres personally, they can be greater in defining him as a success or failure.
It is what he wanted, now he has to deliver. If he fails to score in all three, then the writing is on the wall, and talk that he could be shipped out in January as part of an player exchange for Falcao will accelerate.
If he scores the goals to fire Chelsea to victories, talk about new strikers, whoever they are, will suddenly diminish.
Are you confident Torres will finally deliver for Chelsea over this three-game stretch?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald