Why Álvaro Morata’s Place Is Not Entirely Secure

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Álvaro Morata to Manchester United

Despite scoring 6 goals in 7 Premier League appearances, it’s not absurd to think that Álvaro Morata’s place at Chelsea is not entirely secure. After picking up a hamstring injury in Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City, Álvaro Morata is set to face at least six weeks on the sidelines. In that time, Antonio Conte will have to find an alternative attacking line-up without the Spaniard and that time may present the Italian with a better system.

The Spaniard has adjusted well to English football, but he’s still showing signs that he could be a hindrance rather than an asset to Chelsea this season. Granted he’s scored 6 goals, but in all three of Chelsea’s high-profile games against big clubs this year, he’s not scored once. Against Arsenal in the Community Shield, he came on as a substitute and missed a penalty.

Against Tottenham at Wembley, he missed several chances including crashing a 7-yard header onto the woodwork. In his second game against Arsenal, he was quiet and marked out of the game by Shkodran Mustafi. That doesn’t bode well for the future ‘world-class’ status of Morata. If he can’t deliver against the big teams like Diego Costa, he’ll be rendered useless by Conte for their title defence.

The boots of Diego Costa were always going to be hard to fill, and for some Chelsea fans, Álvaro Morata will never fill the void left by the feisty Spaniard. For Morata to undoubtedly become the no.1 striker at Chelsea, he must also add to his overall build-up play. It’s not enough to chip in a goal or two; he must also create chances through his movement and link-up play with surrounding forwards.

When Chelsea needed a front man to step up the most, Michi Batshuayi was there to inflict Atletico Madrid’s first UCL defeat at their new stadium. This is the same Michi Batshuayi that scored the winning goal to clinch the league title last season. For whatever people want to say about his excessive social media antics and jovial attitude, the kid scores goals when called upon.

That’s why many were puzzled when Conte decided to bring on Willian for Morata instead of Batshuayi against City. That decision ultimately cost the Blues the game as they had no outlet to help them relieve the pressure of City’s dominant possession.

Let’s not forget that Antonio Conte is a man of tactical versatility, in his time at Juventus there were several times when he opted not to play with an out and out striker. In fact, he even deployed Morata on the wing at times. He’s often played systems with a false 9 against teams that rely on possession-based football. False 9 is not a role that Álvaro Morata can play as he lacks the tactical understanding, positional awareness and technical attributes to do so.

After the international break, Chelsea face a trip to Selhurst Park, where they’ll take on Roy Hodgson’s relegation-riddled Crystal Palace team. This will be their first game without Álvaro Morata available; we’ll see how they do.