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How Alvaro Morata can learn from Didier Drogba’s first season at Chelsea

The Spanish forward has the attributes to be a success at Stamford Bridge; he just needs to learn how to scrap

How do you solve a problem like Alvaro Morata?

At the end of last September, the handsome Spaniard had seven goals from his fist eight games in Chelsea blue.

His haul included a goal in the Champions League away to Atletico Madrid and a thoroughly impressive hat-trick against Stoke in the league.


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It was all going so well at the start of the season…

Reuters
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It was all going so well at the start of the season…

His aerial ability, telepathic connection with Cesar Azpilicueta, and delight at starting regularly for the first time since his Juventus days made him a formidable threat for Chelsea’s opponents.

And then defenders started to rough him up.

Ever since Premier League centre-backs decided to get physical, Morata’s powers have faded significantly.

In the second half of last season, he traded celebrating for moaning, dissent, and petulance.

He scored just three goals from Boxing Day until the end of the season and endured a hapless 13-game drought.

Perhaps a history lesson is in order…

Pay attention, Alvaro

PA:Press Association
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Pay attention, Alvaro

Didier Drogba — playground bully, big-game player, the scourge of Arsenal, certified Stamford Bridge legend.

Overriding memories of the Ivorian feature him wrestling hulking centre-backs to the floor, brushing off all those who dared entered his space before unleashing emphatic finishes.

But it’s easy to forget the big man didn’t have it all his own way on English shores.

This is what Arsenal defenders of the mid-to-late 2000s see in their nightmares

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This is what Arsenal defenders of the mid-to-late 2000s see in their nightmares

Drogba arrived in west London from Marseille in the summer of 2004 to the tune of £24million.

Back then that was a sizeable wedge of cash and represented more than half a Richarlison.

In the wake of Adrian Mutu’s extracurricular activities and Hernan Crespo’s dissatisfaction with London life, Chelsea were crying out for a talismanic centre-forward to lead their revolution.

At 6ft 3in tall and without an ounce of fat on him, Drogba seemed tailor-made.

However, once he got on the pitch, he spent much of his time on the deck.

“Sometimes I dive, sometimes I stand,” he told Match of the Day at the time.

Drogba was built to be a centre-forward

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Drogba was built to be a centre-forward

Having played all his professional football in France, the increased physicality of the Premier League took him by surprise and his initial response was to look for free-kicks.

He was also surprised by how much defending he was asked to do.

“I sacrificed myself for the whole team while forgetting my scoring figures,” he told the Daily Mail.

“I did think that I would spend less time running about after the ball.”

That kit, those boots…

AFP
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That kit, those boots…

Chelsea won their first ever Premier League title with Drogba just about reaching double figures in the league.

He missed two months with a stomach injury but still his stats were modest for a £24m striker.

We all know what happened next.

After being told to fight fire with fire, Drogba began to contribute more, establishing himself as the spearhead of a dynamic attack.

And then the goals began to flow; 157 of them in 341 games to be precise.

His speciality? Finals

Getty Images - Getty
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His speciality? Finals

Back to Morata.

Chelsea’s No9 was booked ten times last season — four of those for dissent, one for excessive celebration, and one for simulation.

His disciplinary record suggests he’s spending too much time moaning about getting bullied, when what he needs to do is become the bully.

If you’re going to get a yellow for anything make it for a reducer on your marker

EPA
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If you’re going to get a yellow for anything make it for a reducer on your marker

If he follows Drogba’s lead there’s no reason he can’t emulate the Ivorian’s goal record for Chelsea.

At the moment Morata is too easy to defend against; he needs to become a centre-back’s worst nightmare.

He has the physique and the technical capabilities, he just needs the mentality.

That was the secret to Drogba’s success and it can be the key to Morata’s revival too.


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