Monday , September 27 2021

Chelsea fans still need convincing Alvaro Morata can emulate Didier Drogba and Diego Costa

There are players who have arrived at Chelsea with more pressure on their shoulders than Alvaro Morata. For starters, when the Spain striker joined from Real Madrid for £ 58million in the summer of 2017, he became the club's new record transfer.

That is hard enough to deal with, but Morata was also given the almost impossible task of emulating two of the greatest strikers Stamford Bridge has ever seen.

Didier Drogba scored a remarkable 164 goals for Chelsea and 12 major trophies in claiming 12 trophies during his stay, including the Champions League. Diego Costa spent three seasons in West London, but that was more than enough to leave a lasting impression. There were 57 goals, two League titles and a League Cup.

Morata, 26, was released after a bright start in his season debut and not as much as this one was better, with one strike, the first nine appearances. But the last few weeks, capped by a crucial Palace brace, has provided hope.

A run of five goals in six games is more effective, but the way it goes is too easy and misses, simple chances – like a one-on-one Sunday hat-trick – means the vast majority of Chelsea's following still need convincing that even be half as effective as Drogba and Costa.

However, Cesar Azpilicueta wants such talk to stop, explaining: "I don't like comparisons. Everyone has to work his own path. They (Drogba and Costa) have different qualities and personalities. It's unfair to talk about those two big players and Alvaro.

"Alvaro walks his own path. He came to a new country and I'm sure, with the way that he is working, he will get the reward. "

Inevitably, Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri had also asked his opinion on Morata after his two goals put on the home side on the course to beat Palace. But it is the damning indictment that Morata "is a little bit fragile from the mental point of view".

Anyone who has watched him over the past 15 months would surely agree, although Azpilicueta has noticed a positive change in his compatriot mood lately. "The goals help a lot because we know strikers – they live for goals," he added. "We know that gives him more confidence, he has been playing well, finding opportunities. Sometimes the ball doesn't go in, but I'm happy with his work, his progress. We know that last season was a tough one for him, but he is a very important player for us. "

Chelsea v Crystal Palace: Maurizio Sarri post-match press conference

Despite the former Juventus star's faults, one suspects Palace would be happy to have him leading their front line right now. This was an encouraging display by Roy Hodgson's outfit, who was threatened to repeat the away wins achieved at Chelsea in 2015 and 2017.

The game-plan worked for long periods. They nullified the Chelsea attack and used the pace of Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha on the counter. Townsend shop Palace's equalizer very well, running in behind David Luiz to despatch the ball into the bottom corner.

Yet, on too many occasions, promising floundered moves because there was no center-forward to aim for. Whereas Chelsea could bring on Eden Hazard, Mateo Kovacic and Cesc Fabregas to help secure the three points, Palace had Jordan Ayew and Jeffrey Schlupp to turn to.

On target: Morata scored twice to down Palace (EPA)

A measly eight goals from 11 League matches is a worrying statistic, especially when 16 is registered in the debit column.

Hodgson, who led the club to safety after the terrible start under Frank de Boer last term, was unconcerned.

"The only similarity I see is that we were struggling and look like we were going to get results," he said. "This year, we're somewhat surprised after matches that we didn't get results. Not many teams have outplayed us. "

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