Alvaro Morata finally seems to have found his way again. After a run of 13 games for Chelsea between the Brighton and Leicester game where he scored 0 goals, received five yellow cards and one red card, Morata has scored 3 goals and grabbed 1 assist in his last five starts for the Blues.
This could, of course, be attributed to him finally putting his injury problems behind him. However, a certain beautiful Frenchman has also contributed to Morata’s turnaround. Giroud’s addition to the squad has not only given Chelsea one of the most good looking forward duo in Europe but it has also lifted a lot of responsibility off Morata’s shoulders. Speaking to the club website ahead of the Swansea game, Morata spoke about, inter alia, his performances, his relationship with Giroud and Chelsea’s ambitions.
“Olivier is stronger than me so he is able to keep and protect the ball, then I can play. Against Burnley I think we played a good game together but we need to keep on working. If the coach wants to use it we have that system, or else we can play with one striker, but we are friends and we fight for the team’s benefit which is the most important thing.
“The coach has a lot of players to choose from. I’ve played in teams with two up front, with one striker and even without any. It’s not like the old days when teams always played with two strikers. Some teams play with no striker, and they do well with it, but it depends on the manager. We have many options which is good for the team.”
Of course, in true Morata style, 2 of the last 3 goals in this mini-ascension of his have been headers, including his last goal, against Southampton, which arrived from an Azpilicueta cross, a connection which has become the new Fabregas—>Costa for Chelsea.
All 7 of Cesar Azpilicueta's assists this season have been for Alvaro Morata! What a duo pic.twitter.com/jJsejSymLb— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) April 24, 2018
Morata is so good at headers, it makes you wonder if that’s all he works towards in training. Well, as the saying goes, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
“Honestly, I work on every type of situation on the pitch and this year I’ve scored many headers. It’s a new country, a new league for me, and different to those I’ve played in previously, but it’s good that I’ve been able to score a lot of headers, from a lot of Azpi crosses, but now I have to continue working.
“When I was seven or eight years old, I had a trampoline and my dad used to say to me all the time: “Come on, with the head!” and pass the ball to me as I jumped. I really think it’s helped my heading game because I practised this all the time with my dad, but not really thinking about the future. We just did it because it was funny for me and my dad – we enjoyed it. I just found it funny when I was little to jump high and head or kick the ball, but it helped me for the future as well because the aerial game is one of my good points.”
When a Spanish striker, who is handsome and who chose to don the number 9 jersey arrived at Chelsea for a club record transfer fee; a significant strata of not just Chelsea fans but football fans in general expected him to fail. Thus, when Morata’s bad run of form arrived, you knew that it was going to be the end of the world. In fact, it has been exacerbated to the point where you’d think Morata was worse than Bendtner.
“It’s my first season and I suffered a lot with one injury but I think before that everything was going perfectly. I was one of the top scorers and we were only a few points behind Manchester City. I tried to play, for the team and the fans, but eventually I had to stop.
“That’s in the past now though and I learnt that sometimes when you are injured you can’t put pressure on your body because you need to stop. It’s been difficult at times but I’m sure next season will be much better and we will be fighting once again for all the trophies.”
-Alvaro Morata; Source: Chelsea FC
The facts of the matter are that Morata (11 goals in PL) has played nearly 1000 minutes fewer than Manchester United’s Lukaku (16 goals in PL) in the Premier League, yet only has 5 goals fewer than him and both the strikers have the same goals scored per 90 minutes (0.51).
In Premier League, the two strikers are comparable but Lukaku has played significantly more minutes even outside the Premier League, playing against the likes of Basel and Moscow in Champions League while also starting games in FA Cup. Meanwhile, Conte has mostly started either Batshuayi and now, Giroud, in the domestic cup competitions while only starting Morata 4 times in Champions League as well.
This is, in no way, supposed to prove or even suggest that Morata’s been great. The goalless 13 run of games is all the proof needed to prove why Morata has been disappointing. However, even after that, Morata has the same goals scored per 90 as Lukaku in Premier League (where he mostly played unlike Cup competitions) and yet Morata is being regarded as the biggest flop since the reboot of Fantastic Four.
A counter argument to this could be that Lukaku manages to stay fit even after all those games and that’s something which Morata hasn’t shown yet. Another issue with Morata’s play is his finishing excluding headers and if he wants to survive in the Premier League and at Chelsea, he desperately needs to work on that aspect of his play.
It seems to be more of a mental issue rather than a technical one as Morata seems to be overthinking and having the weight of the world on his shoulders every time he goes for a 1v1 against the goalkeeper. Whereas, in headers, you don’t really get to overthink or make those decisions as it happens in an instant. Whatever the issue may be, it needs to be sorted and it needs to be sorted as soon as possible.
Morata’s start to his Premier League career was amazing as he scored 7 goals in his first 6 starts. It’s those high standards which he had set for himself as well, which contributed to the magnitude of the reactions towards his downfall. Thankfully, for Chelsea, Morata seems to have found his way again in the last few games and here’s hoping that this run of form is here to stay unlike the buckets of gel in his house.
I sincerely hope that he has a hair product sponsor that sends him stuff for free otherwise that’s an expensive fashion choice!