Alvaro Morata is “fragile” and “needs to improve” despite scoring two goals in the win against Crystal Palace, says Blues boss Maurizio Sarri.
The Spanish forward inspired the Blues to a win which took them above Liverpool into second spot in the Premier League table.
Morata has netted 14 times in 40 Premier League appearances since joining from Real Madrid for a then club record £60m in July 2017.
Asked after the match whether Morata can be the main striker at Chelsea, Sarri told BBC Sport: “I don’t know. I think potentially he can.
“He has to improve more in personality and in confidence because sometimes he’s a little bit fragile.”
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Hazard makes impact on return
The headlines will be about Morata – the former Real Madrid and Juventus forward has now scored five Premier League goals plus another in the Europa League this season.
Yet the return of Eden Hazard added much needed energy and flair to a team that had struggled to open up Palace in the opening hour.
Having missed the previous three league and cup games with a back injury, the Belgian substitute did not take long to make an impact after replacing Willian in the 64th minute with the score locked at 1-1.
Ninety-one seconds after his introduction, Chelsea were back in the lead after Palace’s defence failed to deal with Hazard’s free-kick into box which allowed Morata to drill home.
Five minutes later it was 3-1, Pedro – who had delivered the pass for Morata to break the deadlock in the first half – with an unstoppable finish after Marcos Alonso’s low cross.
“We were in a little bit of trouble so we needed some quality, some personality,” added Sarri. “We were lucky today because Eden was on the bench so he was able immediately to change the match.”
Since arriving in the summer of 2017, Morata has struggled to convince his critics he is a consistent goal source for Chelsea.
Yet his performance against Palace could well win him a few more admirers even though he missed a chance to complete his hat-trick in the closing stages after being sent clean through by Hazard.
Will Palace stay out of danger?
Andros Townsend’s lovely equaliser after James McArthur sent him clean through raised hopes Palace could leave Stamford Bridge with a vital point.
Instead they are without a win in six league matches and must plan for their next game at home to Tottenham on the back of a fourth defeat in five top-flight games.
After Spurs next Saturday, Palace’s first game after the international break is at Manchester United on 24 November.
Having been knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Championship Middlesbrough in midweek, Palace started well against Chelsea.
With Wilfried Zaha causing problems at one end of the pitch and Mamadou Sakho strong at the other, Chelsea became frustrated until Morata scored with their first shot on target.
Chelsea have managed just two clean sheets in nine league and cup home games this season and Townsend’s quality finish against the run of play – only Palace’s eighth top-flight goal of the campaign – left them in sight of a first away point since 15 September.
Instead, Palace have now lost four in a row away from home and problems appear to be mounting for manager Roy Hodgson.
“The season has got a lot of football left in it and there’s many more games to play,” said Hodgson.
“I’m fairly confident with the players we have and the way we play that results will come. If you continue to perform at the right level the results have got to follow.”
Man of the match – Alvaro Morata
Good omen? – the stats
- Chelsea are undefeated in their opening 11 Premier League matches of this season – they won the league in the previous two seasons they achieved this (2005-06 and 2014-15).
- Blues boss Maurizio Sarri is unbeaten in his first 11 Premier League games as Chelsea manager – this is the joint-longest unbeaten start by a manager new to the Premier League, equalling the record set by Frank Clark in 1994.
- Crystal Palace have taken just five points from their last 10 Premier League matches.
- Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata has scored four goals in his last four Premier League games – one more than in his previous 23 appearances in the competition combined (3).
- Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has assisted in three consecutive Premier League appearances as a substitute.
- Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend has scored three Premier League goals against Chelsea – more than he has against any other opponent.
- Chelsea’s Pedro has ended on the winning side in 39 of the 40 top-flight home matches he has scored in during his career (26 of 27 with Barcelona, 13 of 13 with Chelsea), drawing the other with Villarreal in January 2010.
Chelsea are on their Europa League travels to Belarus to face Bate Borisov on Thursday (17:55 GMT) while Palace face another tough match at home to Tottenham in the league next Saturday (17:30 GMT).
- 30David Luiz
- 5JorginhoSubstituted forFàbregasat 80′minutes
- 8BarkleySubstituted forKovacicat 64′minutes
- 22WillianSubstituted forE Hazardat 64′minutes
- 10E Hazard
- 3van Aanholt
- 18McArthurSubstituted forSchluppat 80′minutes
- 4MilivojevicBooked at 86mins
- 7MeyerSubstituted forJ Ayewat 71′minutes
- 14J Ayew
- Michael Oliver
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Chelsea 3, Crystal Palace 1.
Second Half ends, Chelsea 3, Crystal Palace 1.
Attempt saved. Álvaro Morata (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Eden Hazard with a through ball.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by César Azpilicueta.
Attempt blocked. Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Pedro (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace).
Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Cheikhou Kouyaté (Crystal Palace).
Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card.
Cesc Fàbregas (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace).
Foul by Pedro (Chelsea).
Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Offside, Chelsea. Pedro tries a through ball, but Álvaro Morata is caught offside.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jeffrey Schlupp (Crystal Palace).
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jeffrey Schlupp replaces James McArthur.
Substitution, Chelsea. Cesc Fàbregas replaces Jorginho.
Attempt missed. Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by N’Golo Kanté.
Attempt missed. Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Luka Milivojevic.
David Luiz (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace).
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jordan Ayew replaces Max Meyer.
Goal! Chelsea 3, Crystal Palace 1. Pedro (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Marcos Alonso with a cross.
Goal! Chelsea 2, Crystal Palace 1. Álvaro Morata (Chelsea) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Eden Hazard with a cross following a set piece situation.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace).
Substitution, Chelsea. Mateo Kovacic replaces Ross Barkley.
Substitution, Chelsea. Eden Hazard replaces Willian.
Attempt missed. David Luiz (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Willian with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Wayne Hennessey.
Attempt saved. David Luiz (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Willian with a cross.
Pedro (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace).
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by James Tomkins.
Attempt blocked. Álvaro Morata (Chelsea) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Willian.
Attempt saved. Max Meyer (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Wilfried Zaha.
Attempt saved. Willian (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Pedro.
Offside, Chelsea. César Azpilicueta tries a through ball, but Álvaro Morata is caught offside.