By Luke Augustus for MailOnline
Published: 22:34 GMT, 2 January 2019 | Updated: 22:34 GMT, 2 January 2019
If Alvaro Morata has any New Year’s resolutions it will be to recapture the form that saw Chelsea decide to part with £70.6million to sign him from Real Madrid in July 2017.
On Wednesday night’s evidence this year is set to go the same way as the previous 12 months for the Spaniard: a forgettable one.
With an ankle injury ruling out Olivier Giroud – sustained during the weekend’s 1-0 win at Crystal Palace – Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri plumped for Morata to lead the hosts’ attack.
On the evidence of his display against Southampton, Alvaro Morata may endure a tough year
Olivier Giroud's an ankle injury at Crystal Palace handed Morata another chance to shine
The previous two times Sarri decided to use such a ploy in the Premier League the outcome had ended badly for his side. It was a month since Morata’s last top-flight start and that resulted in a 2-1 defeat at Wolves on December 5. The time before? A disastrous 3-0 defeat at bitter rivals Tottenham on November 24.
While the outcome of this match against Southampton was only marginally better – Morata’s form wasn’t.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl opted for three centre backs at the heart of his defence in Jan Bednarek, Maya Yoshida and Jannik Vestergaard. Three centre backs would pose a tough task for many in-form strikers but for Morata it seemed a daunting evening laid ahead.
Just seconds into the match there were signs that the 26-year-old was keen to make his mark as his work-rate saw him dispossess Saints captain Oriol Romeu to win possession for his side.
The striker showed endeavour but he is not paid for that - he is paid to score goals for the club
This endeavour was a theme throughout the opening 45 minutes but Morata isn’t paid for that