Manchester City defeat proves we struggle without Spaniard up front, so how will the manager rectify this?
WITH the mundane international break now thankfully over, our focus shifts from watching a team fail to recapture old glories back to the chase for domestic and European silverware.
While last season was kind to us in terms of injuries and suspensions, this term hasn’t followed suit.
A broken ankle for our Eden Hazard started the summer off badly with our mercurial No10 only just returning to full fitness.
Early season suspensions for Gary Cahill and David Luiz added to the strain on an already stretched squad.
And to top it off we lost Alvaro Morata against Manchester City and N’Golo Kante on international duty, both to hamstring injuries.
Have we just been unlucky or is this the fallout from playing so many games without proper recovery time?
After six matches in 18 days before the international break tested the squad to the limit, we now face a run of six games in 17 days, albeit a slightly easier run on paper.
While Crystal Palace, Watford, Everton and Bournemouth present the domestic challenges this month, a double header against Roma in the Champions League certainly looks our sternest test.
Kante is set to miss the rest of the month and will be a big blow for the Champions League games, although we should feel his absence less domestically.
Morata though is a concern, despite suffering a less severe injury than the Frenchman.
Our Spanish Matador is integral to the way we play and as we saw against Manchester City, without him we are much less of a threat.
Michy Batshuayi has scored a fair few goals this season already, but he’s not the kind of player the rest of the team can play off. His ability to hold up the ball and link play, and his movement are not at the same level as Morata, and our counter attacking play suffers as a result.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Michy and think he has a great future ahead of him, but he is still quite raw and although could play an important role in the coming Premier League games, I’m not so convinced he can do it against a higher calibre of opponents.
The other option is to play Hazard up front, a role he has played in the past and one he seems to enjoy.
But is pinning our teams hopes on a still recovering Hazard the answer? Could it be a push too far too soon?
Morata hinted his injury was not as bad as first feared via Instagram on Wednesday, but then strangely deleted the post leaving us wondering if he will be fit for the visit to Palace on Saturday or not.
I doubt we’ll see Morata play this weekend as Antonio Conte isn’t the kind of manager to rush players back, just look how Hazard has been handled.
However with the next three weeks seeing us play a game almost every three days, and the squad already looking a little threadbare in places, it’ll be interesting to see just what Conte’s Plan B will be.
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