Attacking duo aiming to close gap

Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard say the Blues are going into today's game at Bournemouth full of confidence having recorded back-to-back victories over the past week.

It’s been a productive period for Antonio Conte’s side, who produced a fightback to beat Watford last Saturday before a much-changed team, which included debutant Danny Drinkwater, overcame Everton in midweek to set up a Carabao Cup quarter-final against today's opponents.

With the focus now switching back to the Premier League, and an teatime kick-off at the Vitality Stadium, Morata has spoken about how playing away from home in England contrasts to what he has experienced previously in Spain and Italy.

‘The biggest difference is the atmosphere,’ said the striker, who celebrated his 25th birthday earlier this week.

‘In Spain and Italy, when a big club goes to an away ground, the home supporters are excited about seeing the opposition’s big players, for example Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas or Cesar Azpilicueta, but over here it’s not like that.

‘They support their team, they sing and they don’t want anything from Chelsea, they are only there to support their team. That makes it difficult because you always need to give 100 per cent to win away from home.’

With two of the teams above us, Manchester United and Tottenham, playing against each other this weekend, a positive result against Eddie Howe’s side would close the gap on at least one of those sides, which makes our game all the more important, according to Morata.

‘It’s very important for us because now we are not too far behind Manchester City,’ he says.

‘We need to keep working, it’s not easy but we need to give everything in order to stay up there with the two Manchester clubs and Tottenham. We can’t afford to give other teams more points if we want to have the possibility of winning the league.’

Having scored four goals in his last three appearances against the Cherries, Hazard will undoubtedly be looking forward to the trip to the coast.

The 26-year-old scored his first goals of the season in the recent Champions League draw against Roma and, having missed our first three matches of the campaign due to injury, Hazard says he is beginning to recapture his best form.

‘The goals help, for sure,’ he said. ‘The goals help the confidence. For the body, you just need practice and to play. That’s it.

‘We know Bournemouth is a good team, they like to play football and have good players, but when we go there we do well also. Last season, we scored three goals; two years ago, we scored four goals. So, yes, I think everything is ready for us to have a good game.’

Hazard and Morata have performed as an attacking duo on three separate occasions so far this season, most memorably in the Champions League away win against Atletico Madrid. On that occasion, their pace, movement and intelligent link-up play proved too much for the home side to handle.

‘He’s a top striker,’ said Hazard. ‘When good players play together, they don’t need to train two years. When we are on the pitch, we can see the movements he does and his technical ability is good so, with Alvaro – and, before, with Diego Costa as well – it’s good.

‘I try to have a good connection with my striker because, in my position, it’s good to have this player who is like a target man, so I need a good connection with him.’

The big tests just keep on coming, with the game against Bournemouth preceding a Champions League trip to Roma and the visit of Manchester United a week on Sunday.

During his time at Juventus, Morata scored a brilliant goal against AC Milan to clinch the Italian Cup at Rome’s Olympic Stadium, the venue for Tuesday’s game, and he is looking forward to going back.

‘Yes, I have nice memories there,’ he says. ‘In Italy it’s always a hot, difficult atmosphere but if we want to qualify for the next round we need to play well and make sure we take some points.’