Since the turn of the year, Alvaro Morata has faced testing times at Chelsea with a lack of form and injuries challenging the Spaniard’s mental strength. Failing to score in his last six matches in all competitions and suffering a back injury has derailed his confidence.
Chelsea’s record signing made a return from injury during the second half of his sides 3-0 win over West Brom on Monday night replacing the club’s January signing Olivier Giroud.
Both target-men, who are in contention to start the FA Cup clash against Hull City on Friday night, will be vying for that all-important starting spot against Barcelona next Tuesday. The La Liga giants, who have had many great clashes against the London club, will travel to Stamford Bridge for the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.
For that encounter, Antonio Conte will have a big decision to make on whether he selects Morata or the club’s new recruit up front. The decision to start the latter could result in Morata suffering the same problems Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette currently finds himself in – his confidence well and truly out of the window.
Arsene Wenger continually substituted Lacazette in the Premier League, with the Frenchman completing seven of his 26 league matches before he suffered an injury during the 1-0 defeat at Tottenham at the weekend. During that match, Lacazette missed two guilt edge opportunities late on, with many believing Wenger’s man-management has played a part in why the nine-goal striker has only bagged one goal since the turn of the year.
Morata finds himself in a not too dissimilar situation, a big money signing from the summer who has struggled to find any form this year and in desperate need of a goal. If Conte opts to start Giroud against Barcelona then that will well and truly deflate his striker counterpart.
Earlier on in the season, Chelsea produced arguably their best display of the campaign when they beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 in their own backyard, with Morata getting on the scoresheet that night. Added with that, he has great pedigree in the Champions League, with the Spain international netting on three occasions for the current holders Real Madrid last term.
Not only that, Morata will be well aware of what it takes to beat Barcelona and his desire to score against them will be greater than ever considering they are his former rivals. As a result, Conte needs to show faith in his big-money summer signing because a firing Morata mixed with the current form of Eden Hazard will only bring positive vibes to Stamford Bridge.