Chelsea: Alvaro Morata must do damage control to rebuild his reputation
Alvaro Morata has been taking a lot of heat from the Chelsea faithful as of late. His first year in the Premier League has grown progressively tougher, with the league’s physicality the number one culprit.
Many players struggle to acclimate to the Premier League. Alvaro Morata’s issue is simply staying on his feet when the contact comes. If you are fouled and have to go down, sure, do so. But every bit of contact does not mean you fall to the ground. Morata is dangerously close to building himself a reputation as a whiner or diver in the referees’ and fans’ eyes.
Morata started the season on fire with six goals in as many Premier League matches. He has scored only four since. In the last five matches he has more yellow cards than goals and assists. His confidence seems low, and teams may be playing him a little more physically.Even so, Morata has been on the ground more and more often, even under visibly light contact. He likely feels he is not getting the calls he deserves. But even if they were fouls and he is not, in fact, getting the calls, he cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results.
Morata averages a yellow in fewer minutes than the infamous diver / simulator king, Luis Suarez. Suarez is known for biting, falling to the ground untouched, flailing on the ground, all with little to no contact. The numbers between the two are very similar, with the exception being Morata has played fewer minutes. Suarez has been fouled thirty-five times in Champions League or La Liga, while Morata has been fouled 36 times while playing roughly 1300 fewer minutes.With almost the same amount of calls for and against each of them, this is not to say Morata is a whiner of Suarez’s caliber. But sometimes the stats do the insinuating for you.
Another comparison is the Premier League’s darling Harry Kane. He is being fouled every 72.4 minutes, while Morata is fouled every 44.46 minutes. Morata has little to complain about, as the referees stop play in his favor more than they do for his peersIt may take time for him to break the bad habit of going to ground once the contact arrives. The season is twenty-eight weeks through. Antonio Conte has almost certainly had a conversation with Morata about this in training. Does that mean Morata has ignored Conte? Or is it so engrained in him that it is natural to just go down? Is his confidence so low that instead of turning and dribbling past a defender, he finds it easier to go down and try to steal a free kick?
Chelsea needs Alvaro Morata to stand up and take it to the Premier League defenders. The last ten matches in the season are vital for the Blues to qualify for next year’s Champions League festivities. To miss out on a top-four spot for a second time in three years would see the end of Antonio Conte’s reign as Blues manager.
Alvaro Morata’s struggles are definitely fixable. The question is how long will it take him. Fans should not give up on Morata. He is a world class player who should return to the form expected when he signed with Chelsea in the summer.Some fans have been clamoring for the likes of a Diego Costa up front. Morata may need some Costa-like attitude, fieriness, and toughness. But in no way does Chelsea need Diego “I’m going to wreak havoc against humanity” Costa. As frustrating as Morata’s struggles are, they are nowhere nearly as bad as the drama that came along with Costa.