Antonio Conte Reportedly 'Angered' by Lack of Striker Options at Chelsea

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistOctober 4, 2017

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23:  Alvaro Morata of Chelsea is congratulated his team's 4-0 victory and his hat trick by manager Antonio Conte after the Premier League match between Stoke City and Chelsea at Bet365 Stadium on September 23, 2017 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is said to have been left "angered" by his lack of centre-forward options following the injury to Alvaro Morata.

The Spain international hobbled out of the contest against Manchester City on Saturday as the Blues went on to lose 1-0. It's left Chelsea with Michy Batshuayi as their only natural option in the position.

According to Matt Hughes of The Times, the injury to Morata has riled the Blues boss, who wanted to add another forward to his squad in the summer transfer window.

"Conte is particularly aggrieved at not being given an alternative to Fernando Llorente, who chose to join Tottenham Hotspur in preference to Chelsea on transfer deadline day in August," said Hughes. "He thinks Chelsea's pursuit of Llorente was bungled throughout."

According to the report (h/t Metro), Conte was also dismayed at the decision to send Tammy Abraham out on loan to Swansea City and the departure of Dominic Solanke to Liverpool.

As noted by Mark Ogden of ESPN, the Italian's choice to turn to Willian instead of Batshuayi in the loss to City suggests he doesn't have too much trust in the Belgian:

However, Batshuayi has said he is ready to take any chances that come his way as a result of Morata's potential absence and feels the manager does believe in him, per Gary Cotterill of Sky Sports.

"It sounds strange to say, but someone's bad luck is sometimes the happiness of the other," said the former Marseille striker. "I know that I will have more playing opportunities in the coming weeks. It's up to me to show that I'm capable. I know Conte has confidence in me. Otherwise, he would have let me leave during the summer."

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23: Michy Batshuayi of Chelsea looks on as he warms up prior to the Premier League match between Stoke City and Chelsea at Bet365 Stadium on September 23, 2017 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Ge
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Morata's potential absence is a huge blow for Chelsea, as he's been exceptional since joining the club from Real Madrid in the summer. However, as relayed by MetroThe Times reported there is hope he will be fit for the match with Crystal Palace following the international break.

If he isn't, Batshuayi may get his chance. After all, he tends to make an impact when he steps on to the pitch, as noted by Squawka Football:

Against West Bromwich Albion late last season he netted the only goal in a game that sealed the Premier League title for the Blues, and recently he snatched a last-gasp winner for Chelsea at Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.

Speaking after that late goal in the Spanish capital, Conte suggested Batshuayi still has plenty to learn about the Premier League:

There have been times during Conte's tenure when a front three of Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian has worked well for the team, with the perpetual motion of that trio tough for opponents to contend with. However, Morata offers a focal point and natural instincts in front of goal.

While Batshuayi is a competent finisher, there are other areas of his game that remain raw, and as a result, Conte still seems to have some concerns about him as a starter. Over the course of the campaign, it'll be intriguing to see if the Belgium international does enough to eventually force his way into the Blues' plans on a regular basis.