In a week where one of Chelsea’s goal-scoring Spanish internationals returned home, another was in red-hot form to dispatch Stoke at the bet365 Stadium yesterday.
Twice assisted by fellow countryman Cesar Azpilicueta, Alvaro Morata showed the league exactly what he can do with his feet, netting a stunning hat-trick from his right boot after all five of his previous goals and assists had come with his head so far this season.
In a game which ebbed and flowed with chances for both sides, the former Real Madrid man gave a lesson in efficient hold-up play and ruthless finishing in front of the Stoke faithful. Pedro also got on the score-sheet with similar killer-instinct, ensuring that three quarters of Chelsea’s goals this season have been scored by Spaniards. Conte’s men ran out comfortable 4-0 winners.
— Breathe Chelsea (@BreatheChels) September 24, 2017
Cool & Clinical
Having spent much of his career coming off the Real Madrid bench when his side were most in need of a goal, it is clear that Morata is a top-quality striker when it comes to dealing with pressure and putting away goal scoring opportunities with regularity as all good strikers do. Claiming three goals from his four attempts on goal yesterday proves exactly that.
Going away to Mark Hughes’ Stoke side is never the easiest of games, as Manchester United and Arsenal have each already found out this season. In such games, converting your chances is absolutely key, whether said chance comes after 90 seconds, as was the case for Morata, or 90 minutes.
It goes without saying that a clinical striker is key to any title-worthy side, and Chelsea fans will now be convinced that Morata well and truly falls inside that bracket. Goals win games, and we don’t want to be relying too heavily on midfield players to deliver them as we have done in the past.
There are a whole host of words you could use to describe the number nine’s second, a sensational effort running virtually half of the pitch, shrugging off defenders with ease and finishing from the tightest of angles. Shades of Fernando Torres and Thierry Henry in their prime, or, dare I say, Diego Costa too.
A huge rating from WhoScored for hat-trick hero & MOTM Alvaro Morata! 🔥🔥🔥 Will he prove to be an upgrade on Diego Costa after all?
Morata is rapidly proving himself as more and more of an all-round striker. We’ve seen how good he can be in the air, he’s also now showed that he can use his feet, but another very impressive part of his game on display yesterday was his hold-up play.
With upper-body strength to match any Premier League centre-back, his hold-up play and passing is good enough to revolutionise the way Chelsea can either approach a game from the outset, or in a change of tactics mid-way through. Playing effectively as a lone striker, he showed in this game how he has no issue with being isolated, and in fact really enjoys his responsibility to control the ball in attacking areas for the team while bringing in players around him.
The stats show how he really prioritised this part of his game at Stoke, as all 25 of his passes went either backwards or sideways. That could be interpreted as a bad thing at face value, but in a side with the luxury of bringing players like Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard off the bench, he knows that it’s not his responsibility to be creating chances for other players, as in fact the opposite is true. Morata’s role is to find those players in space while they are moving forward, so that he can then get himself in goal scoring positions. He did that impeccably yesterday
Diego Costa isn’t the only man who has swapped London for Madrid this week as I myself have also re-settled in Spain’s capital for the time being, and with such a strong and impressive Spanish influence running through Chelsea’s side nowadays, what a time for Conte’s men to make the trip to face Atletico. In what will be the first Champions League ever at the brand-new Wanda Metropolitano stadium, I’ll be one of the lucky 68,000 who’ll be there to witness the curtain raiser.
As for the team, there’s a very interesting shape that’s starting to develop out of Cobham. The midfield combination of Kante and Bakayoko impressed again yesterday and Hazard will most probably start alongside Pedro up front in support of Morata. The interesting selection issue will once again come in the back three. Although a clean sheet was achieved yesterday, it wasn’t a flawless defensive performance. Anyone of Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, and Gary Cahill will partner David Luiz and Azpilicueta in defence, I suspect the latter will make a return to the side as captain.
A draw would be a good result, of course, but you’d think we’ll have to score to get that point, so expect and interesting encounter on Wednesday evening.