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Chelsea vs. Roma, Champions League: Keys to the game

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Stoke City v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Depending on Morata

Just a couple months into the season it already appears that much of Chelsea’s goal scoring responsibilities will fall on the shoulders of Álvaro Morata. Having spent a club-record amount on him, that is to be expected to a certain degree, though the attack’s apparent ineptitude when he’s not leading the line is concerning.

That situation might improve as the season goes along — Eden Hazard is still just getting back into the swing of things; Willian and Pedro can’t be out of form forever; and Morata’s backup (either Batshuayi or a new player in January) might improve to the point of usefulness — but for now, Morata is essential to Chelsea’s quest for goals.

Hopefully Morata’s hamstring is indeed good to go. As much as he’s needed, rushing him back only to aggravate the injury down the line would be a poor decision, sacrificing short-term gain for long-term pain.

Chelsea v Nottingham Forest - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Davide Zappacosta’s awakening

With Victor Moses joining the ranks of Chelsea’s hamstring injury club on a buy one, get many weeks free deal, it’s time for Davide Zappacosta to shine.

He’s already scored a great/lucky goal and we’ve seen him launch a multitude of crosses (to various effect) — more like Zappa-cross-ta, right? — but now he’s going to have to do it consistently while also showing that he can be relied on in defense, at least to the same extent that we can rely on Marcos Alonso putting in a defensive shift.

Zappacrosta had the misfortune to be aiming his crosses at a bunch of smalls over the weekend, but with Morata returning, this could be the start of a beautiful FIFA-esque relationship. Cross-header-goal. Make it so!

Crystal Palace v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

A solid defensive outing

After the shambles of the weekend, Chelsea really need a stout defensive outing from both the midfield and the backline. While Roma aren’t exactly a goal-scoring powerhouse with 14 in Serie A and only 2 in the Champions League, former lamppost-impersonator Edin Dzeko is a Ballon d’Or nominee and not because of his good looks.

Like Moses, N’Golo Kante is out for the foreseeable future. We have to get used to life without him for at least the rest of this month. Whether that means Bakayoko stepping up, Fabregas discovering hitherto unknown awareness and success — he did attempt 13 tackles over the weekend! — or a permanent shift into a 3-5-2 with David Luiz as anchorman, Antonio Conte needs to figure out a good solution ... and quickly!