The most concerning aspect of Chelsea’s performance on Saturday in the 1-0 loss to Manchester City was the team’s inability to pose any tangible threat to the opposition, despite Guardiola’s men offering a clear and obvious way to attack them. The spaces behind the defensive line went largely unexplored, while Fabian Delph at left back was barely tested in any situation, let alone a 1-v-1 with a fast forward or wing-back.
Some of those problems were created by Conte’s insistence to stick with the 3-5-2 rather than the more sensible 3-4-3 that would’ve afforded Chelsea another forward. And those problems only got worse when Álvaro Morata had to be substituted after 35 minutes. Devoid of an actual striker or even an attacking midfielder to approximate a striker making runs behind the line and down the channels after then, the Chelsea attack looked as useless as it ever has under Conte.
While the systemic issues can be ironed out in training, Morata’s injury could be concerning, especially if he’s to miss an extended amount of time. After the game, Conte seemed confident that the issue was minor.
“It’s a muscular problem. I don’t think it’s serious. He said to me: ‘Coach I prefer to stop, otherwise I risk having a bad injury.’ I don’t know. The doctor in the next few days will check the situation but I don’t think he will be available for the national team.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
If Morata was able to recognize the injury early — his midweek knock was supposedly an ankle, a different, probably unrelated issue — hopefully he will be able to avoid any significant damage by taking the next two weeks off. Spain should be able to make do without him; Chelsea can’t really.