In the end, Eden Hazard’s absence with a bad back wasn’t an issue. Given Chelsea’s reliance on him to provide our attacking spark thus far this season, the four-goal outburst against Burnley from four different players was a welcome change.
Álvaro Morata got the party started with his second goal in three Premier League matches — and third in four in all competitions — on a confident finish from the proverbial slide-rule pass by Ross Barkley. Barkley himself then showed his self-belief with a goal from outside the box and even rushed-substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek (in for a sick Pedro) got himself a goal, his fourth in two matches. Even Willian got back on track for his usual 1 goal-per-month pace.
Only Oliver Giroud couldn’t break through.
“I am very happy for Alvaro because in this moment I think he needs to play, to score. And so I am very happy for Ross, for Loftus. I am a little bit disappointed for the missed chance of Giroud because I think that Giroud in this moment needs to score.”
On Thursday night Sarri said he was confident that Chelsea’s two strikers would eventually start scoring goals. He gave it a month. It took 48 hours. He’s now hoping that Morata has broken through whatever psychological barrier was holding him back.
“I think that Alvaro today played well. He went to the ball when it was necessary. I think he played a very good game. Probably he could have scored more as he had three of four opportunities, but he scored a good goal. I think the last three or four matches can be a good start for him.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London
But as far as Giroud’s concerned, the drought’s starting to hit epic proportions — now around 700 minutes across 14 appearances dating back to last season — and at some point, not even his other contributions will be enough. Certainly when Hazard isn’t playing, with whom Giroud seems to have an excellent connection, Morata may be back ahead in the pecking order. Chelsea’s record signing at striker started the season as first-choice, then lost his place to the emergency January backup signing, but now the pendulum appears to be swinging back.
That’s probably a good thing for Chelsea overall, at least in theory. Now it’s Giroud’s turn to step up. And if the two strikers continue to push each other for minutes and goals, we might just be able to overcome our over-reliance on Hazard and over-achieve something great this season.