On Saturday afternoon, the world watched on in anticipation as Chelsea welcomed Pep Guardiola’s high-flying Manchester City to Stamford Bridge.
It was the biggest game of the season so far, a true test of the visitors title credentials and come the end of the game, they had passed with flying colours.
Former Blues man Kevin de Bruyne gave City a deserved 1-0 win and their dominant display warranted a bigger winning margin.
It was a disappointing day for Antonio Conte, who was missing key man David Luiz from his defence.
MORATA LIMPS OFF
In the early stages of the game, summer signing Alvaro Morata appeared to have the better of the City defence with his physicality and sly movement.
However, he had to be taken off midway through the first half with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Willian.
Chelsea fans were noticeably concerned by the departure of their top goal scorer and on Tuesday, they were brought some terrible news.
BAD NEWS FOR CHELSEA
The Spanish Football Federation announced that Morata had picked up a grade two hamstring injury and could miss six weeks of action.
It was thought that his exit at the Bridge was a precautionary measure and it appears the player thought the same.
Morata posted a tweet stating that he was looking to make his comeback in the Crystal Palace game after the international break but promptly deleted the post.
— Dan Levene (@danlevene) October 3, 2017
Clearly, the player was unaware of the severity of his injury and was hoping for a speedy recovery. Naturally, Chelsea fans were a tad concerned.
Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata targeting Crystal Palace return despite hamstring injury diagnosis
Striker Alvaro Morata appears to be hopeful of being fit and available for Chelsea’s next Premier League meeting with London rivals Crystal Palace despite fears that he could be sidelined for up to two months with a hamstring injury.
Left thigh pain forced Morata to request a substitution just 35 minutes into a 1-0 defeat to title rivals Manchester City on Saturday (30 September) and he subsequently travelled to Spain, where an MRI scan undertaken at the Sanitas University Hospital of La Moraleja revealed a grade two myofascial injury in the hamstring muscles.
The 24-year-old was ruled out of La Roja’s final two 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Israel and it was generally thought that he could miss between four to eight weeks, with many estimating a layoff of approximately six weeks.
But Morata is said to have told friends before the scan that he expected to be back in training within a matter of days and Chelsea are set to conduct their own assessment of his injury at Cobham this week.
A social media update posted by the player on Tuesday afternoon has boosted the seemingly far-fetched hopes that he will not miss any club matches whatsoever.
Writing on Twitter in a message that has since been deleted, Morata made it clear that he was still targeting being involved in that clash with rock-bottom Palace at Selhurst Park on 14 October. The post is still up on his official Facebook page, while a slightly different version appears on his Instagram feed.
“I have no time to lose. Working hard towards recovery,” he said.
Morata, who recovered quickly from a similar injury during his second spell at Real Madrid last term, has made a fantastic start to life in west London, scoring eight goals in his first nine appearances across all competitions for the defending English champions.
Antonio Conte will be desperate to have the former Juventus forward available for a particularly busy slate of matches that will see Chelsea play seven times in three weeks before the next international break comes around in early November.
Such a hectic stretch includes Premier League clashes with Palace, Watford, Bournemouth and Manchester United in addition to a Champions League double-header against AS Roma. The Blues are also scheduled to meet struggling Everton next month for a place in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.
Asked if he felt Morata’s injury could be linked to Chelsea’s busy schedule, Conte said: “On this issue I have already spoken and to repeat the same opinion is not good. We don’t want to use it as an excuse. To play another massive game two days later you must consider the fatigue in the legs of your players, and it’s impossible to press box to box because after 30 minutes you have no energy.
“It’s normal when you play three massive games in seven days you must consider this aspect but we needed to take the risk because Morata, for us, is a very important player.”
With Diego Costa now gone and Chelsea failing to secure the services of priority summer target Fernando Llorente, Michy Batshuayi would become first-choice striker in the likely event that Morata is forced to spend time in the treatment room.
However, it is worth noting that Conte, who described the decision as being purely tactical, initially opted to send on Willian against City despite the Belgian sandwiching an impressive hat-trick against Nottingham Forest with goals against FK Qarabag and Atletico Madrid.