Maurizio Sarri admits Alvaro Morata is low on confidence but insists he has no concerns about the Chelsea forward’s continuing problems in front of goal.
Morata, 25, has endured an alarming dip in form after making a positive start to his Chelsea career following his £60 million move from Juventus 13 months ago.
The Spaniard scored freely during the opening weeks of last season, but struggled during the second half of the season, scoring just one league goal after the turn of the year, although he did score twice during the Blues successful FA Cup campaign.
Sarri, installed as Antonio Conte’s successor a month ago, included Morata in his starting line-up for the Community Shield defeat to Manchester City and the last weekend’s victory at Huddersfield Town, Chelsea’s opening game of the Premier League season.
Morata is again expected to lead the attack when Sarri’s side face Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening. But while the Chelsea head coach maintains he has no concerns about the player, he concedes the former Real Madrid man needs a goal.
“I am not worried about Morata,” said Sarri. “Morata is a very great player. I think that, in this moment, he needs only to gain confidence. But he is a great player.
“Maybe, maybe [he is low on confidence]. He needs to score. As all the strikers in the world do, I think. He needs to gain confidence, but he's improving so I'm not really worried about him.”
Last weekend’s comprehensive victory gave Chelsea the perfect start, but Sarri insists he has had a testing time during his first month in charge. He also believes the opening weekend confirmed the scale of the task confronting him and he attempts to keep Chelsea within sight of Manchester City.
“I think that, at this moment, in English football there is one club above the others,” he said. “This club is Manchester City. We have to try to do our best. We have to try to reach 101 per cent of our potential. Then we have to see. We have to work to reduce the gap.”
“It has been very difficult,” he added, talking about his first month in charge. “This season, it has been very difficult for every club, and especially the most important clubs, with the World Cup and the friendly matches... one in Australia, one in Dublin, one in France. It has been difficult. But we started to work all together only 10 days ago, so we have to work. We have to improve. But, in my opinion, in two months we can be a very good team.”
Sarri indicated he is likely to hand a debut to Mateo Kovacic against Arsenal. The midfielder, signed on loan from Real Madrid, is being eased into action after reaching the World Cup final with Croatia and the Blues manager has high expectations of the 24-year-old.
“I think Mateo will be very useful for us,” Sarri said. “He's a very technical player. In this moment, he has to work. I think he's not ready now for 90 minutes, but maybe, tomorrow, for the first 30 or the last 30 minutes he could be used. I expect a lot from him because, for me, he's a very great player. In my opinion, he can improve more.”
“I think he can play in any of the three positions in midfield. He's a very good offensive player, but he has improved in the defensive phase in the last two years in Madrid.”
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