Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri face decision on striker options after Alvaro Morata injury

Premier League club set to be without Spaniard at Brighton leaving manager Maurizio Sarri with Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud to work with in the central role

Chelsea's Alvaro Morata was injured in the Europa League. Action Images via Reuters
Chelsea's Alvaro Morata was injured in the Europa League. Action Images via Reuters

Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri is likely to assess the attacking talent on offer in the January transfer window after Alvaro Morata suffered an injury this week.

The Spanish striker was forced out of the Europa League draw at Hungarian club Vidi just before half-time after injuring his knee while shooting and will almost certainly miss Chelsea's Premier League trip to Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

His misfortune allowed Olivier Giroud to enter the action and the France international responded with a late free-kick that secured a 2-2 draw and ensured Chelsea remained unbeaten throughout the group stage as they progressed to the last 32.

Sarri must now decide whether Giroud should start at Brighton or whether he again employs Eden Hazard in a central role as part of a less physical, more mobile forward line.

Given his frequent tactical changes so far, the Italian does not appear fully convinced that either approach is ideal.

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Neither Morata nor Giroud have fully impressed this season. Morata has outscored his rival for the centre-forward role with five Premier League goals to Giroud's one but has again proved inconsistent, mirroring last season's form when he was bought as a replacement for Diego Costa.

Giroud said this week he had no problem with biding his time at Chelsea because the prospect of winning a Premier League title kept him motivated.

"Alvaro (had) a great pre-season, so it was normal not to take him off the team even to put in a world champion. Let's be patient, work in training and come back stronger," he told The Guardian

"I prefer to be at a big club rather than playing every week in a less prestigious team and I still have targets. To win a Premier League is my last dream as a footballer, maybe more than winning a Champions League, because I know how tough it is to win this league."

"I have teammates here who have won it, so I'm a bit jealous."

There are questions for Sarri, however, on how effective Hazard is if he is leading the line rather then Giroud or Morata.

Hazard's relationship with Sarri's prConte suffered when the Italian used him in a more central role and having been again asked to switch, the goals have dried up for the Belgian.

He scored eight goals in the opening ten games but has now failed to find the net in eight games.

Chelsea's hopes of winning the title rest on Sarri getting the Belgian scoring again and finding a more consistent central striker - and the solution to both problems is likely to be found in the January transfer market.

Updated: December 16, 2018 08:16 AM

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