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Feb 7, 2011

Ancelotti defends Torres debut

Carlo Ancelotti has launched a staunch defence of Fernando Torres' Chelsea debut, claiming he will persist with playing him alongside Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.

• Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool: Meireles strikes
• Carra: We've moved on from Torres
• Adams: Blues hopes ended
• Premier League Gallery Photo Gallery
Blog: Out-fought and out of the race

Ancelotti maintains it is only a matter of time before Chelsea see the best of £50million striker Torres - and also vowed the champions are not about to give up on the title race.

Torres had been the name on everyone's lips in the build-up to Sunday afternoon's much-hyped Premier League clash against former club Liverpool at Stamford Bridge following his British transfer record move from Anfield. However, it was not to be a dream debut for Torres, who put an early 20-yard effort high into the stands but lacked any real service during an ineffective team performance from the home side, and was eventually replaced by Salomon Kalou after 68 minutes.

Moments later and the Reds fans - who had taken great delight in barracking their former Kop idol throughout the match - were celebrating when Raul Meireles slammed the ball into the net after a mix-up between Chelsea keeper Petr Cech and Branislav Ivanovic which was enough to secure another victory for Kenny Dalglish's improving side.

Ancelotti, however, sees no reason why deploying Torres, Drogba and Anelka in a new-look front three should not work as Chelsea battle to overturn a 10-point deficit on Manchester United, who had lost at bottom club Wolves on Saturday.

"We have to give Fernando time to adjust to the shape, but I think that he will do it quickly,'' said the Chelsea boss, whose team had chalked up three successive league wins. "We played a fantastic game with this shape at Sunderland and wanted to reproduce that, but Liverpool were strong defensively, put strong pressure in their half, and we were not able to find the solution.

"The problem wasn't that Torres played - he did a good job on the pitch. We had difficulty finding enough space in front, because Liverpool defended very well and they put three defenders in the middle, and we didn't find the right way to attack them and were too slow playing from the back.''

Ancelotti added: "The problem was not putting these players together, they have a lot of quality and I will try everything to put them together. Obviously we could play better as a team, not just in front. When you don't play quickly from the back, you have difficulty playing well up front.''

Ancelotti accepts it will be a big ask for his side to haul themselves back into the championship race, but said: "We have to try to fight again for the title. The Premier League is very difficult in every game, so it could happen that United can lose again. Maybe now we have less possibility to close the gap, but we have to try again.''

The travelling Liverpool fans revelled in Torres' ineffective display, chanting "you should have stayed at a big club'' as the World Cup winner took his place in the Chelsea dugout. Ancelotti maintained it had been the right decision to start with the Spain striker.

"After 60 minutes and a very busy week, it was good for him to come off,'' Ancelotti said. "Fernando has experience, he has confidence and didn't show problems before the game. He was enthusiastic to play, excited, and it didn't show a problem.''

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