Conte has a gaping hole to fill in Chelsea's attack

LONDON • Antonio Conte will attempt to find a solution to Chelsea's problems in front of goal without the services of suspended pair Alvaro Morata and Pedro when they face Brighton in the Premier League today.

Michy Batshuayi's strike in the midweek FA Cup third-round replay win against Norwich City, a success achieved on penalties after a 1-1 draw, was the Blues' first goal after three straight 0-0 draws.

But the loss of Spanish duo Morata and Pedro, both of whom were booked for diving against Norwich and then dismissed after collecting second yellow cards, does nothing to help Conte revive his side's goal threat.

"It is another problem and in this moment it is a big problem," Conte told a press conference yesterday.

"Morata didn't play long against Norwich and he was resting for Brighton. I have to change the plan."

Morata is the club's leading scorer in the league with 10 goals, while Pedro has four. The only other player with more goals than the former Barcelona forward are Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso (both six), with responsibility for leading the attack at Brighton likely to fall on Hazard.

Chelsea were hoping to sign West Ham's Andy Carroll on loan to give them more of an aerial threat, but that move has fallen through after the English striker suffered an ankle injury that could rule him out for up to six weeks. The champions have made 366 crosses from open play this season - more than any other side in the league, and want a big man to finish off direct moves.

Chelsea are now considering a shock move to sign 36-year-old Peter Crouch from Stoke City this month while Roma's Edin Dzeko, a Premier League winner with Manchester City, has also been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge.

Conte yesterday refused to confirm interest in Crouch or Dzeko but revealed that new signing Ross Barkley could make his Blues debut today.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2018, with the headline 'Conte has a gaping hole to fill in Chelsea's attack'. Print Edition | Subscribe