Has Alvaro Morata been an upgrade on Diego Costa at Chelsea?

Has Alvaro Morata been an upgrade on Diego Costa at Chelsea?

Alvaro Morata was the villain of the piece as Chelsea failed to beat Arsenal on Wednesday night. The current champions had the better chances and should have put the game beyond doubt before Hector Bellerin popped up with an incredible equaliser. The Gunners showed good heart to avoid defeat, but they shouldn’t have been given the opportunity to get back into the match. The visitors’ striker has scored goals this season and appeared to be a decent addition, but yesterday’s poor finishing display has caused some supporters to have doubts over whether he is good enough to start regularly for a team with their ambition. Some have even suggested that he is a downgrade on Diego Costa and that the club made a big mistake during the summer when they let last season’s top scorer return to Atletico.

Considering that he has moved to a new country, Morata has adjusted well and he has currently scored ten Premier League goals at a rate of one every 143.2 minutes. When compared to Costa’s record last season, he does well as the club’s former striker scored 20 goals at a rate of one every 154.5 minutes. The caveat is that the latter managed to show this form over an entire season and scored crucial goals in big matches to secure the title for the club. There are still doubts over whether the Blues’ current striker can show consistency in front of goal and score regularly when the pressure is on.

The system that Chelsea plays does lead to a lot of chances for their striker, as shown by the healthy shot stats of both Morata and Costa. The current Blues striker is averaging 3.73 shots per ninety minutes at an accuracy of 55%. Meanwhile, his chance conversion stands at 16.9%. The man he replaced averaged 3.24 shots per ninety minutes at an accuracy of 53%. His chance conversion was slightly higher at 18%. Despite the recent criticism of Morata, there doesn’t appear to be a huge difference in his production to Costa. There has been an overreaction to his three misses against Arsenal on Wednesday and to suggest he isn’t good enough based on that is unfair.

It is worth mentioning the creative quality brought to the team by Morata that was an improvement on what Costa offered during his time at Stamford Bridge. During this season, the £58 million signing has created 1.52 chances per ninety minutes and contributed an impressive four assists. This is a better chance creation than Costa as the former striker averaged 1.23 per ninety minutes during his final campaign in England. The improved fluidity is evident when watching Chelsea since the signing of Morata, but there isn’t a stat to show this. His decision making on the ball is better and he is less likely to be selfish, which has enhanced the style of the team.

In the modern game, it can be easy for a player to be written off based on one performance. Morata was very bad in front of goal against Arsenal, but that was only one game. This is a player that has now played for Real Madrid, Juventus and Chelsea, all by the age of 25. As this is his first full season as a regular starter, he needs to be given leeway and his reaction to this poor performance will be more telling than the misses itself. It is clear that the talent is there, but he needs to have the self-belief to match it if he is going to take the next step to being a world class striker.