Courtois urges Chelsea to show killer instinct
LONDON – Agence France-Presse
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has challenged his misfiring teammates to rediscover their cutting edge in Jan. 13’s clash with Leicester.
Antonio Conte’s side was held to a frustrating goalless draw in the League Cup semifinal first leg against Arsenal on Jan. 10 despite creating a host of chances.
The Blues were also held to a scoreless draw by second tier Norwich in the FA Cup third round last weekend.
With only 41 Premier League goals this season, Chelsea has scored less than any of its top four rivals and lags 16 points behind leader Manchester City.
Conte has called on his players to show a more ruthless instinct in front of goal and, with Leicester due at Stamford Bridge this weekend, Courtois echoed his manager’s words.
“Against Stoke we scored five goals but against other teams we have maybe missed too many chances,” Courtois said.
“Like 2-2 at the Emirates [on Jan. 4] and 0-0 and at the weekend against Norwich, maybe we have to score more goals from the chances we create because I think we create enough danger, but we need to finish it as well.”
There was nothing wrong with Chelsea’s approach play as they carved open the Arsenal defense on several occasions, but Blues defender Antonio Rudiger knows that enterprising build-up counts for nothing without a goal the end of it.
“I think the last pass is missing, the final part to score the goal. There weren’t a lot of chances against Arsenal but some were there. We have to kill a match off,” he said.
Conte vowed to carry out an inquest into the problem on the training pitch.
But the Italian insisted it is not only the forwards who are culpable, pointing to two missed headed chances by defender Andreas Christensen against Arsenal.
“We are conceding less than last season, but we are not scoring like last season. We have to improve,” Conte said.
Despite Conte’s comments and his support for Alvaro Morata, it appears the Spain striker is feeling the burden of expectation.
Morata scored seven goals in his first eight appearances following his move from Real Madrid, as a replacement for Diego Costa, but he has since netted just five times in 21 outings.
Rudiger conceded Morata might be suffering from a loss of confidence.
“As a striker it’s normal that you want to score. Of course there are times when the head is down a little bit,” he said.
“I’m not worried about him. The whole team is with him and I think all the fans are with him.
“It’s just a difficult period for him. Sometimes there are spells when you score and don’t score, but his effort for the team is good and he always tries. If he scores again, everything will be fine.”
Meanwhile, Leicester striker Jamie Vardy will be fit to face Chelsea after recovering from a groin injury.
The England international missed Saturday’s FA Cup draw at Fleetwood but will make the trip to west London.
Leicester captain Wes Morgan and defender Danny Simpson remain out with hamstring problems.
“He will be available for the game, there is no problem with Jamie. He can train well this week,” Leicester boss Claude Puel said.
“I don’t know how long Wes will stay outside the squad but I hope to have some good news and hope I can speak about the end of the injury.”