Alvaro Morata says it would be a special achievement to win the FA Cup at the end of his first season as a Chelsea player, but the team’s focus prior to the Wembley date is on battling to secure a top-four finish, starting later today when we travel to Swansea City.
The Blues play our penultimate away game of the campaign at the Liberty Stadium later today, looking to record a fourth consecutive victory and close the gap on fourth-placed Tottenham, who face Watford on Monday, to two points.
‘If we win we will put a bit of pressure on Tottenham before they play and that’s all we can do,’ Morata tells the club’s official website.
‘We have to get as many points as possible because we want to fight until the end to try to finish in the top four. We are Chelsea and we want to play in the Champions League.’
It was Morata who sealed the victory over Southampton in last Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final, the striker scoring [pictured below] with his first touch of the ball just 86 seconds after his introduction.
The goal, a trademark back-post header from the now-familiar sight of an angled cross from Cesar Azpilicueta, means Morata has scored 15 times this season, nine of which have been headers, more than any other player in the Premier League.
‘Honestly, I work on every type of situation on the pitch and this year I’ve scored many headers,’ says the 25-year-old. ‘It’s a new country, a new league for me, and different to those I’ve played in previously, but it’s good that I’ve been able to score a lot of headers, from a lot of Azpi crosses, but now I have to continue working.
‘When I was seven or eight years old, I had a trampoline and my dad used to say to me all the time: “Come on, with the head!” and pass the ball to me as I jumped. I really think it’s helped my heading game because I practised this all the time with my dad, but not really thinking about the future. We just did it because it was funny for me and my dad – we enjoyed it. I just found it funny when I was little to jump high and head or kick the ball, but it helped me for the future as well because the aerial game is one of my good points.’
Today’s game will be our third consecutive fixture away from home in the Premier League and it was in the last of those, the 2-1 win at Burnley [pictured below], that Morata and Olivier Giroud were paired together up front from the start of a match for the first time.
Antonio Conte’s decision paid off, with the duo performing well, and Morata explains how the system can prove beneficial.
‘Olivier is stronger than me so he is able to keep and protect the ball, then I can play,’ he says. ‘Against Burnley I think we played a good game together but we need to keep on working. If the coach wants to use it we have that system, or else we can play with one striker, but we are friends and we fight for the team’s benefit which is the most important thing.
‘The coach has a lot of players to choose from. I’ve played in teams with two up front, with one striker and even without any. It’s not like the old days when teams always played with two strikers. Some teams play with no striker, and they do well with it, but it depends on the manager. We have many options which is good for the team.’
Now coming towards the end of his first campaign as a Chelsea player, Morata tells us about one of the valuable lessons he has learned from his time in English football so far.
‘It’s my first season and I suffered a lot with one injury but I think before that everything was going perfectly,’ he explains. ‘I was one of the top scorers and we were only a few points behind Manchester City. I tried to play, for the team and the fans, but eventually I had to stop.
‘That’s in the past now though and I learnt that sometimes when you are injured you can’t put pressure on your body because you need to stop. It’s been difficult at times but I’m sure next season will be much better and we will be fighting once again for all the trophies.’
There is, of course, still an opportunity to end the current campaign by adding silverware to the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet, with an FA Cup final against Manchester United to come on Saturday 19 May.
Morata, scorer of a superb winner [pictured above] when we got the better of the Red Devils in November, is targeting another memorable day at Wembley.
‘It’s an important trophy and it will be my first at the club if we win it, which would be very special,’ says the forward.
‘I want to win as much as I can. We have the opportunity to win the FA Cup and we will fight together to get the trophy. In England the FA Cup is very important, it won’t be easy because Manchester United are a top side, but for sure it will be a great occasion for football and a good show.’