Álvaro Morata

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Conte on Morata: “This is not a lucky period for him”

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Antonio Conte was disappointed that Chelsea couldn’t hang onto its late, come-from-behind lead against London rivals Chelsea on Wednesday.

And while Arsenal certainly more than deserved its point based on performance, Chelsea may’ve walked away a decisive winner had Alvaro Morata finished a number of gold-plated chances in the draw.

[ ARSENAL-CHELSEA: 4 things | Player ratings ]

That his misses came on the day Diego Costa scored — and was injured — for Atletico Madrid won’t escape the majority of Chelsea supporters, and Conte is pleading for patience (which isn’t a lot to ask for considering he’s adjusting to a new league). From ChelseaFC.com:

‘This is not a lucky period for him because at the last game versus Stoke I said it is very important for the striker to have the chance to score, and here today he had chances to score but it is football. I am very happy for his commitment and his effort for the team, this is the most important for me but for the striker it is important to score because then your confidence is up. In this case his confidence can do down but he is very young and he has to continue to work to improve and he will see that the goal is coming.

‘The only things I can tell him are to stay calm and continue to work in this way for the team because then the chances will arrive for him and for the other players. This is the first season he is playing with regularity. He has to stay calm and to continue to play in this way and the goal is coming.”

Morata has bagged 10 Premier League goals, 12 overall, for Chelsea since arriving from Real Madrid. That’s a bit down from his 20 goals in 43 for Real last season, though goals are traditionally a bit easier to come by in attack-driven La Liga.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Brighton

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  • Brighton hasn’t beaten Chelsea since first meeting in 1933
  • Sides haven’t met since 1989 (1-0 Blues win)
  • Chelsea have won five straight at Stamford Bridge
  • Brighton is winless in seven of its last eight

Chelsea will take on Brighton & Hove Albion on Boxing Day from Stamford Bridge (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Blues manager Antonio Conte receives a lift in his attack as Alvaro Morata is eligible to return from his one-match suspension. Chelsea will need their Spanish goalscorer to be firing on all cylinders, with the club finding the net just once in its last two league matches.

Meanwhile, Brighton will also get a key player back as Shane Duffy returns from his suspension.

What they’re saying

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte on the club’s winter transfer window plans“If there is the possibility to improve the squad on the numerical aspect, I think it would be a good choice. But, at the same time, I’m enjoying working with these players. At this moment, I’m ready to continue to play with all these players.”

Chris Hughton on being the underdog against Chelsea“We go to Chelsea knowing in most people’s minds it is difficult to get a result there. There aren’t too many who will expect that but that’s the challenge, and for this club and these players these are the challenges we have been looking forward to the most. In the other big games, apart from Liverpool [a 5-1 defeat], we have been in the games.”

Prediction

The Blues have been wildly inconsistent, but Alvaro Morata’s reemergence gives the team a noticeable presence up front against Brighton — who have had their own share of stuggles of late. Chelsea 2-0 Brighton

Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Chelsea

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  • Alvaro Morata is suspended for Chelsea but the club has a clean bill of health.
  • Chelsea has won their last three Premier League matches against Everton by an aggregate score of 10-0.
  • Sam Allardyce has won his last two PL matches versus Chelsea and will become the first manager to win against them with five different clubs if Everton are victorious.
  • Wayne Rooney has scored 10 goals in 16 PL appearances this season; the fewest amount of matches it’s taken him to reach 10 goals in a season since 2011/12.

Everton has seen its fortunes change spectacularly since Sam Allardyce has taken over as manager but the Toffees will be put to the test on Saturday when they host Chelsea. (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

[MORE: Top Premier League storylines — Week 19]

Since being named manager on November 30, Allardyce has led Everton to Premier League wins over Huddersfield Town and Swansea City at home and Newcastle United on the road, as well as a 1-1 draw at Liverpool in the derby and a 3-0 win on the road in the Europa League.

It’s been an up-and-down last few weeks meanwhile for the defending Premier League champions, which were on a low after a draw at Atletico Madrid and defeat to West Ham before consecutive wins over Chelsea, Southampton and then Bourmenouth in the Carabao Cup.

The big question looking ahead for Chelsea will be how they deal with the loss to suspension of Alvaro Morata, with Michy Batshuayi likely stepping in.

What they’re saying

Everton boss Sam Allardyce on Yannick Bolasie, who is making his comeback from a torn ACL: “Physically he is ready, technically he’s a little rusty but we have to think about throwing him in at some stage. He could be on the bench tomorrow”

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte on being without Morata: “Now I have to prepare a different plan and I have different options. I have another day to make the best decision and looking at the training today, every single player is in good form.”

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Prediction: Everton has shown a much-improved defense since Allardyce joined the club but facing Chelsea is another challenge that may be a step too far for the fragile Everton squad. Chelsea should take care of business on the road. Chelsea 2-1 Everton

WATCH: Bonkers finish! Chelsea tops Bournemouth

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A first-half goal from Willian looked like all Chelsea needed to brush off Bournemouth in the League Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge.

But Dan Gosling struck in second half stoppage to seemingly push Antonio Conte‘s men to extra time.

Nope. Alvaro Morata.

[ MORE: Swansea fires Clement ]

Assisted by Eden Hazard‘s tasty back heel, Morata’s goal set-up raucous celebrations which were quite surprising given how assured the win seemed just moments beforehand.

That’s not to say Bournemouth didn’t manufacture chances, but it just seemed it wouldn’t be their day despite a very good second half at the Bridge.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Southampton

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  • Chelsea leads all-time 41W-28D-28L
  • Saints have points in 3 of 5 at Stamford Bridge
  • Southampton winless in four straight league games

Chelsea returns home following an emphatic away win to meet a Southampton side fresh off embarrassment at home (Watch live Saturday at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Saints were battered 4-1 at St. Mary’s by former coach Claude Puel, while Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea rebounded from a loss at West Ham by battering Huddersfield Town 4-1 at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Conte was asked to compare Alvaro Morata to club legend Didier Drogba, as the Spanish striker has reportedly been studying footage of the big Ivorian.

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“They are two different players with different characteristics,” he said. “Didier Drogba brought history to this club and he’s a wonderful player, a wonderful striker because he continues to play. He’s a great striker, more powerful than Alvaro but Alvaro, don’t forget, has a lot of space for improvement. He’s strong physically, he’s a technical player and I see a great future for Alvaro.”

Chelsea still won’t have David Luiz available, while Southampton has no new injury concerns despite the recent schedule congestion.

What they’re saying

Antonio Conte on Southampton premonitions“‘My expectation is for us to suffer, I have this sensation, so we must pay great attention. When you play after a bad defeat, especially at home, there is great attention of the coach and the club because they don’t want to continue a bad run. They want to give a good answer against a strong team like Chelsea.”

Saints’ Mauricio Pellegrino on facing Chelsea: “We want to show our best version. Chelsea is a really difficult side but maybe we can find more space.  We have to do a really good game to have a possibility of winning, but hopefully after a difficult moment we can bounce back. In this club, we want to show we are committed to trying to be competitive, our energy and commitment to the club.”

Prediction

Saints are wounded, but Chelsea has the better depth and form. Charlie Austin or Sofiane Boufal may force a goal past Thibaut Courtois, but look for the Blues to pull out a 2-1 win.