As Alvaro Morata limped off against Manchester City clutching his left hamstring, Chelsea fans were left with their hearts in their mouths.
Our fears were not eased after he withdrew from the Spain squad ahead of their World Cup qualifiers. This season is set to be the most competitive yet, we cannot afford to lose any further ground in the title race. We cannot afford to lose Morata for any considerable length of time.
As per Physioroom, there is no definitive return date for Morata, but he will not be available for the Premier League champions’ clash with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park after the international break.
That leaves Antonio Conte with a selection headache – how does he adapt his side in Morata’s absence? Here’s three ways which he could.
Since his arrival at the club last summer, Conte has shown little willingness to give Michy Batshuayi any sort of considerable game-time, but his hand may well be forced here. Batshuayi is our only other natural centre-forward, and is the most logical choice to replace Morata. This option would force Conte to revert to the 3-4-3 system which did wonders for us during the previous campaign.
Batshuayi & Hazard
Eden Hazard has essentially been operating as a second-striker alongside Morata when Conte has decided to use 3-5-2, notably in our previous two matches against Atletico Madrid and Manchester City. Partnering Batshuayi with Hazard could give him the support that he needs, as he has so far proven himself unable to lead our attack single-handedly.
We saw this several times last season while Diego Costa was unavailable. Willian, Pedro and Hazard, who are all available for selection against Palace, interchanging in a trio which is designed to bamboozle the opposing defence. Although we would lack a focal point should we opt for this system, it’ll be entertaining.