Safe to say, Alvaro Morata hasn’t convinced everybody since Chelsea paid £60million for his services during the summer transfer window.
After a ferocious start to his Blues career, the Spain international has managed just two goals in his last nine appearances, while his all-round performances have created cause for concern as well – particularly after missing a succession of one-on-ones against Arsenal in the Premier League last week.
The 25-year-old faced the Gunners once again yesterday evening in the first leg of the semi-final of the League Cup and once again, he failed to provide the cutting edge expected of a striker plying his trade with one of the Premier League’s top clubs.
Morata mustered up just one shot on target before being subbed off in the 86th minute, was twice caught offside and dispossessed three times, and perhaps most worryingly of all completed less than half of his attempted passes.
There are plenty of theories as to why the 6 foot 2 striker has come off the boil in recent weeks; some point to the fact this is his first season without a winter break and the first time in his career he’s been the first-choice striker rather than a super-sub. Others believe it’s merely the kind of dry spell all strikers endure now and then, and a few think Morata quite simply isn’t that good.
But amid a frustrating, unspectacular evening for both teams at Stamford Bridge, another factor truly stood out as he struggled to make an impact – there’s simply too much pressure on the Spaniard right now.
While some of that is self-imposed by his own downturn in form, Antonio Conte’s lack of faith in his understudy, Michy Batshuayi, is only exacerbating the problem because Chelsea don’t have another reliable centre-forward to turn to.
That’s impacted Morata’s workload as well and as we reach the hectic winter period, both the physical and mental aspects of being Chelsea’s only dependable strike option appear to be catching up with him.
Counter-intuitively, signing a rival front-man this month who can actually compete with Morata for a starting role might well bring the best out of him once again. In any case, in terms of minutes on the pitch and finding the net, it would significantly reduce the burden.
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