Antonio Conte refused to criticise Alvaro Morata for missing several key chances to score in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal, insisting that the striker has simply not been “lucky” in front of goal in recent games.
Morata found himself behind the Arsenal defence with only Petr Cech to beat three times at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening, twice missing the target and hitting the third attempt straight at the goalkeeper as Chelsea threatened to score a dramatic winning goal in the final seconds.
Conte was visibly frustrated at his team’s wastefulness on the touchline, but insisted after the match that Morata will soon rediscover his confidence in front of goal as long as he continues to get himself into scoring positions.
“He’s not lucky in this period, but he has to continue to work and to improve,” Conte told Sky Sports. “For the striker it’s very important to score. In this case it’s a pity because he had many chances, but I’m very happy for his effort and commitment to the team.”
Pressed on the Spain international’s performance in his postmatch news conference, Conte added: “For Alvaro, this is the first season he is playing with regularity. I am very happy for his commitment and the way he is playing. He has to stay calm and continue to play this way.”
After an action-filled first half surprisingly yielded no goals for either team, Chelsea fell behind to a thunderous Jack Wilshere strike in the 63rd minute, but swiftly levelled when Eden Hazard controversially won and converted a penalty.
Marcos Alonso then fired in from substitute Davide Zappacosta’s low cross on 84 minutes to put Chelsea on course for victory against their London rivals, but Hector Bellerin curled a shot beyond Thibaut Courtois to ensure a share of the spoils — though Morata and Zappacosta both had chances to provide a final twist.
“When you have a lot of chances to score you must win,” Conte added. “Instead we’re talking about a draw. A good draw against a good team like Arsenal, but in this game we deserved to win because we created a lot of chances to score.
“My disappointment is the same as my players. We win together, draw together, lose together. It’s a pity because we deserved to win the game.
“When you create so many chances you have to score, to win and to continue a good run. But football is this. We must accept the final result but at the same time know we must continue to work, to improve and to try to score more to win.”
The penalty incident involving Hazard dominated the postmatch analysis, but the smiling Belgian was unequivocal when asked about it while standing next to Bellerin, the Arsenal defender judged to have fouled him.
“No, we don’t need a replay,” he said. “It’s a penalty.
“[The match] was 50/50. Both teams played a really good game. Maybe we should score more goals, we missed a lot of chances but I think a draw is maybe good for both teams, so we’re happy.”