It would be too simplistic to condemn a striker whenever they fail to find the net and then praise them whenever they get on the score sheet.
There are so many different factors at play in any given football match and while strikers provide the cutting edge, they’re inevitably dependent on the ten team-mates working behind them to get the ball into dangerous areas.
Alvaro Morata will feel that was the ultimate problem for him on Sunday; while Chelsea had plenty of possession at St. James’ Park – 81%, in fact – most of their forward advances were painfully narrow, playing into the hands of Newcastle’s 5-4-1 formation.
That being said, on occasions like that the best strikers in the world make chances for themselves, by hook or crook, and ensure they have some impact on the game regardless.
Morata, though, only managed two efforts at goal against the Magpies, neither of which hit the target, while failing to register a single key pass, successful dribble or aerial duel. In fact, he had just 20 touches of the ball – the only Chelsea starter to fare worse was goalkeeper Kepa.
Perhaps Morata can be forgiven for having an off day considering how tightly-packed Newcastle’s defence was, but of course this isn’t an isolated incident. The Spain international has still managed just two goals so far in 2018 and his only strike this season owed as much to Arsenal’s amateurish defending, squeezing up on the halfway line away from home, as it did the former Real Madrid forward’s quality.
Maurizio Sarri has continued to keep his faith in Morata but the longer this spell of underwhelming form goes on for, the more it will impact Chelsea’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League. Reliable goalscorers are a fundamental part of any top side and while the rest of the big six have at least one dependable front-man to call on, Chelsea are persisting with a centre-forward who still looks completely devoid of confidence and aggression.
Come the end of May, Morata’s modest form could well be the difference between finishing inside and outside the top four. So, Chelsea fans, which forward would you start next weekend when the Blues host Bournemouth? Let us know by voting below…