Antonio Conte has been told Olivier Giroud ‘has the edge’ over Alvaro Morata and should start for Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final against Southampton. The Blues head to Wembley on Sunday hoping to join Manchester United in the final after Jose Mourinho’s side beat Tottenham 2-1 on Saturday. Chelsea have endured a torrid 2018, slipping out of the top-four, but at least go into the fixture on the back of two straight Premier League wins.
The west London outfit came back from two goals down to beat Southampton 3-2 last weekend, with January signing Giroud scoring a brace after coming on as a second-half substitute. Chelsea then defeated Burnley on Thursday night to keep their slim hopes of finishing above Spurs alive. It was a frustrating evening for club-record signing Morata at Turf Moor – the Spaniard missed a glorious chance to score being being hauled off by Conte.
In the dug-out, Morata gestured towards the Burnley fans who were goading him and was seen throwing his boots and shin pads to the ground in frustration. He later apologised for the outburst. Conte has predominantly started Morata over Giroud since the latter arrived at Stamford Bridge from Arsenal but Chris Sutton believes Giroud will get the nod at Wembley. ‘It will be interesting to see which way Antonio Conte goes. After those two goals against Southampton, I think he will go with Giroud off the back of that,’ he told Goal.
‘I think he has the edge and that will be in the back of the Southampton player’s minds. He has been uncertain about who the best striker to go with is really. ‘At times it has been Morata or Giroud or neither of them and Chelsea aren’t the same force. I think Giroud might get the nod in this particular game.’ Explaining his decision to take Morata off during Chelsea’s win against Burnley, Conte denied it was because of his miss and said: ‘Around 70 minutes, I thought that it was better to put fresh strength with Hazard. ‘He is a player that has different characteristics to Morata. I am pleased for their performances, they played very well.’
On Morata’s reaction to being taken off, the Italian manager added: ‘Alvaro must be angry, because when you have the chance to score you have to score and it can change your confidence. ‘He was angry with himself for his missed chance. But I have to see his whole performance and it wasn’t possible in the past to play with two strikers. They did a great job, as did the whole team.’