1 October 2017
The Chelsea, Manchester City match was not quite the goal-fest that many had hoped for, but it was an exceptionally interesting game nonetheless.
The match saw the Cityzens run out 1 – 0 winners over their London hosts as Pep Guardiola’s men extended their lead over the reigning champions to six points.
Chelsea now sit in fourth place in the league, although they could fall further down the table should those with games in hand claim three points.
All things considered, it has been a very bad weekend for Antonio Conte with both Manchester sides and Tottenham picking up wins, while Liverpool and Arsenal will also be backed to pick up victories too.
Chelsea will now have to stomach two weeks without Premier League football due to the international break, and their disappointment from their loss will fester. Another point of contention is the future of Alvaro Morata who limped off in the 35th minute with what seemed to be a hamstring problem.
The Spaniard has been in outstanding form this season netting six goals and assisting twice, which has seen the forward become an integral part of the London team following his move from Spanish side, Real Madrid.
However, is he already becoming too integral to the side?
After the striker was substituted in the game, the London side offered nothing going forward. Wide-man Willian was introduced to the game in place of Morata, meaning Chelsea played with no recognised striker until Michy Batshuayi was introduced in the 73rd minute.
It is clear that Morata’s absence had a massively adverse effect on their ability to effect the game, and any injury could see the champions stalling over the coming weeks.
The decision to bring on Willian also made it clear that Conte does not trust Batshuayi enough to play the forward in the biggest games for an elongated period.
Of course, he was utilised in the Champions League game against Atletico Madrid as he scored a late winner to hand Chelsea all three points, but it is telling that he was brought on with much of the game already gone.
The Belgian is obviously a very talented individual that will continue to improve, but it seems as though Conte refuses to want to place all of his trust in the youngster.
Indeed, if he did feel the striker was ready to take the mantle of being the sole front-man for much of the game, then he would have introduced him against City much earlier.
It is clear then that any injury to Morata could be terminal to Chelsea. The departure of Diego Costa was largely sanctioned because of the arrival of Morata, but Chelsea do not have another striker to step up in a scenario in which the Spaniard picks up an injury.
They were toothless against City and, without a focal point in attack, the talents of Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas were unable to work their magic which played to City’s advantage.
Ultimately, Chelsea’s 90-minute performance showcased that they are not adequately prepared for a Premier League campaign and any subsidiary cup competitions to go with it should Morata pick up an injury.
It seems then that Chelsea, after just seven Premier League games with Morata up-front, are already relying on him just too much.