Sarri's dilemma: Morata or Giroud against West Ham?

Chelsea's Olivier Giroud believes it has always been fair competition between him and Alvaro Morata - and that is positive for the team.
Chelsea's Olivier Giroud believes it has always been fair competition between him and Alvaro Morata - and that is positive for the team.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has a tough decision to make over whether to pick Alvaro Morata or Olivier Giroud for the Premier League trip to West Ham today.

The Blues have notched five wins out of five with Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard the star man for Chelsea so far, scoring a hat-trick in their 4-1 win over Cardiff last week.

But who will Sarri pick to lead the line at the London Stadium?

Up until last weekend, Morata, 25, was getting the nod, with 31-year-old French World Cup winner Giroud - a stronger physical presence - consigned to the bench.

But Giroud got his chance against Cardiff and Hazard made no secret of his admiration for his teammate, after the Frenchman laid on two goals for him.

"Olivier's a target man, maybe the best in the world - I think so," said Hazard, appearing to make it clear whom he would prefer to see in the line-up."When he gets the ball he can hold the ball and we can go in deep with him, so for us it's a pleasure to play with him.

"When Alvaro (Morata) was playing it's completely different, he's a different player than Olivier, but they both have great qualities."

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    Olivier Giroud (no goals, three assists) has made more goal contributions to Chelsea's attack in the league than Alvaro Morata (one goal, no assists)

Spanish striker Morata was criticised last season over his lack of a killer touch after a bright start to his career at Chelsea and has found the net only once so far this season.

Sarri said he needs goals to boost his fragile confidence following Chelsea's 1-0 win against Paok of Greece in their Europa League opener on Thursday, for which he was back in the starting line-up.

"Alvaro has to gain confidence with one, two, three goals," the Italian said after the victory, during which Morata missed a number of chances.

Giroud, limited to substitute appearances before last week, is yet to score for Chelsea this season but already has three assists in the Premier League.

The former Arsenal player, who moved to Chelsea in January, believes the battle with Morata is positive for the team.

"It has always been a fair competition between us and we will both try to step up to help the team reach our target," he told London's Evening Standard.

"I'm happy to have a teammate like that, who pushes me to do better. It's positive for both of us. I want to play as many games as I can and try to be as efficient as I can."

While both strikers are fighting for their place in Sarri's starting XI, Gary Cahill is considering leaving the club in January as he is frustrated with his lack of game time.

The centre-back has not played since Sarri took over from Antonio Conte at the start of the season.

"I don't want to jump the gun, but as things stand at this time, probably, yes," he said when asked if he could leave the club.

"I'm not a guy who is willing to accept not playing. Your career's short enough as it is. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions to keep your career going forward. As it is now, I'm not really enjoying things."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 23, 2018, with the headline 'Sarri's dilemma: Morata or Giroud against West Ham?'. Subscribe