The information that their facet must play the most important recreation of the season with out his document signing is normally sufficient to not less than spark panic amongst a fan base, however the truth that Romelu Lukaku’s absence has led to damage from Tuesday. The journey to Actual Madrid has did not generate greater than minor headlines that mirror how a lot he has struggled since returning to Chelsea this season.
Signed from Inter Milan for £97.5m final August, Lukaku was seen as the ultimate piece of the jigsaw that will permit Thomas Tuchel to unravel the thriller of methods to finish Manchester Metropolis and Liverpool’s home dominance.
However regardless of scoring 4 instances in his first 4 matches – which included a purpose in Chelsea’s spectacular second look at Arsenal and two in opposition to Aston Villa – the Belgian’s targets rapidly pale.
Lukaku continued to frustrate to the purpose the place he now discovered himself behind Kai Havertz within the offside association to be No. 9 at Stamford Bridge, the German prepared to guide the streak once more as Chelsea tried to overturn their 3-1 deficit on the Bernabeu and advance to the Champions League semi-finals.
Lukaku was overlooked of the match with an Achilles tendon damage, however his absence is unlikely to have disrupted Tuchel’s recreation plan, given the 28-year-old’s solely begins since mid-February have come within the FA Cup.
Lukaku got here off the bench within the first leg in opposition to Actual, however together with his facet two targets behind and desperately in want of inspiration, he missed an excellent alternative simply minutes after approaching, a scene that completely summed up how he is come again to the membership he supported as a young person veered.
Lukaku will now be denied the possibility to make up for that mistake within the second leg and can as an alternative have to observe from the sidelines, as he could contemplate the place issues have gone incorrect this season, why Havertz has managed to succeed the place he failed, and whether or not his return to West London is doomed. For the reason that starting.
Extra targets, extra passes, extra ball restoration – Havertz case on Lukaku
Since Lukaku’s now notorious efficiency at Crystal Palace on February 19, which noticed the participant signing for practically £100m contact the ball simply seven instances in 90 minutes, he has began simply two matches, each in opposition to a lower-league opponent within the FA Cup. .
Whereas that afternoon at Selhurst Park appeared to be a turning level for Lukaku, it was additionally a turning level for Havertz, who changed the Belgian as Thomas Tuchel’s favourite quantity 9 after that match and went on to attain seven targets in 9 matches.
The truth that Havertz is taking his alternative to guide the road is welcome information for Chelsea given the large funding they’ve made in him for practically two years, nevertheless it offered the issue of what to do with Lukaku.
It appears unacceptable for a participant of Lukaku’s undoubted high quality to heat up the bench for thus lengthy, however the stats beneath present why Tuchel’s desire for Havertz to guide the road is absolutely justified.
The German scores extra Premier League targets each 90 minutes than Lukaku, whereas additionally making an attempt extra photographs and directing extra of them in the direction of purpose.
Havertz’s consolation enjoying in several positions – he is spent most of his profession enjoying both on the wing or behind a key striker – could clarify why he presents a lot extra in development than Lukaku, as evidenced by the truth that he accomplished greater than twice as many passes as his teammate per 90. Correct.
It is not simply Havertz’s private statistics that justify his inclusion on Lukaku’s account; Because the chart beneath exhibits, Chelsea carry out higher on quite a lot of metrics – together with targets, last-third passes and rebounds within the ultimate third – when Tuchel performs his compatriot as a central striker.
Why did Lukaku fail to search out his ft?
Evidently, Lukaku’s whole of 5 targets in 20 Premier League video games since his return to Chelsea is way lower than he or the membership anticipated, not what the European and world champions have paid all that cash for.
The 28-year-old’s output is all of the extra shocking when in comparison with his distinctive efficiency with Inter Milan in Serie A final season, when he performed a key function of their first Italian title in 11 years.
Solely Cristiano Ronaldo – then from Juventus – has scored extra targets than Lukaku in Serie A within the 2020/21 season, however since his return to the Premier League, Belgium’s all-time high scorer has scored fewer targets, photographs, touches within the penalty space and assists. .
It is arduous to say that Chelsea will not be doing sufficient for his or her striker. In comparison with the Inter facet the place Lukaku thrived final season, Tuchel’s staff tried extra passes within the ultimate third, extra lengthy passes, extra by way of balls and extra crosses.
Nevertheless, one of many foremost variations between the 2 groups is that Lukaku was supported by Lautaro Martinez final season in Antonio Conte’s favored 3-5-2 plan, whereas he normally had two attacking midfielders behind him when he was main Chelsea’s streak. Inter’s system allowed Lukaku to occupy positions within the middle and in the appropriate channel, whereas enjoying a extra central function beneath Tuchel.
In Lukaku’s controversial interview with Sky Italia On the finish of final yr, he questioned the coach’s system, saying that Tuchel “determined to play a special formation”. Was that a sign of the striker’s want to play with an attacking accomplice?
But it surely’s not as if Tuchel hasn’t given Lukaku the possibility to play alongside one other striker this season – he has achieved so on six events, with the Belgian’s manufacturing slipping on plenty of key metrics in comparison with when he strains up because the lone striker. .
Chelsea lined up a 3-5-2 plan for visiting Manchester Metropolis in September, with Lukaku up entrance alongside Timo Werner, however the Blues failed to attain a shot on purpose within the 1-0 residence defeat.
This efficiency prompted Tuchel to confess his ways had been incorrect, saying: “We had been too deep, there was no connection. [with Lukaku] This was a collective drawback, not a person drawback.”
Chelsea defenses seem within the attackers in entrance of the purpose
However whereas the stats make a grim studying for Lukaku, it may be arduous to tell apart him as a poorly performing striker for Chelsea. Certainly, there’s an argument that many attacking Blues gamers do not carry their weight in entrance of purpose – a priority on condition that they should rating not less than two targets simply to maneuver Actual Madrid’s Champions League match into additional time.
Mason Mount is the one member of Tuchel’s squad to double within the Premier League this season, whereas none of Lukaku, Timo WernerAnd Christian PulisicAnd Hakim Ziyech or Callum Hudson-Odoi They scored greater than 5 instances within the first division.
The Chelsea strikers have even been featured by their youthful teammates at the moment on mortgage across the Premier League. Conor Gallagher He has scored extra league targets this season than every other Blues participant apart from Mount, whereas Armando Bruga Six hits just one behind Havertz.
However alternatively, Chelsea have a exceptional talent in scoring targets from different areas, particularly defenders. Rhys James He’s the defender with probably the most targets within the Premier League with 5, whereas Chelsea’s defenders mixed as a bunch to attain 19 this season – lower than the complete Norwich facet in 31 video games.
Lukaku is following within the well-known footsteps?
Following Lukaku’s seven touches at Palace, Tuchel advised that historical past might be in opposition to his striker in his quest to develop into a daily high scorer at Stamford Bridge, saying: “There’s a historical past of strikers struggling a bit at Chelsea, so it is probably not the best place on the earth for strikers.” .
“I do not know why it’s like this,” Tuchel added. “In my view, Chelsea is a staff that could be a sturdy defensive staff, a bodily staff, and has a sure perspective when in aggressive soccer.”
Lukaku is actually in good firm relating to being a well-known striker who has failed to fulfill expectations at Stamford Bridge. Andrey ShevchenkoAnd Torres Fernando And Alvaro Morata Everybody arrived for an enormous charge however struggled to various levels Radamel Falcao And Gonzalo Higuain She endured disappointing mortgage spells in West London.
In actual fact, since then Didier Drogba – Definitely the perfect Chelsea striker of the previous twenty years – he left the membership for the final time in the summertime of 2015, solely Diego Costawho has scored 52 Premier League targets in 89 appearances, can declare unconditional success as an attacking midfielder for the Blues.
Tammy Abraham His whole of 21 targets in 56 league video games might be higher than anticipated on condition that Tuchel barely used the England striker, whereas Oliver Giroud 17 in 75 doesn’t mirror the worth he offered as a goal man.
Nevertheless, there isn’t a doubt that Chelsea have lacked a prolific goalscorer for plenty of seasons, which is evidenced by the barely plausible indisputable fact that: Eden Hazard 28 targets makes him the Premier League’s high scorer for the reason that begin of the 2017-18 season, regardless of leaving the membership practically three years in the past.
For context, that places Lukaku’s Belgian teammate in thirty third place by way of variety of targets within the first division on the time. Throughout the identical interval, Harry Kane scored 100 targets, whereas Mohamed Salah leads the league with 115 targets.
Lukaku would possibly take a look at this and suppose Tuchel was proper when he mentioned historical past might be in opposition to him – in any case, scoring targets on a constant foundation like Chelsea’s No.9 appears to be rather a lot more durable than it needs to be. But it surely’s additionally clear that Lukaku shouldn’t be doing the job he was introduced in, which is the goalscoring purpose that allowed the Blues to shut the hole between Liverpool and Metropolis.
Within the meantime, Tuchel settled on a system with out Lukaku that continued to permit his staff to gather factors, whereas Havertz stuffed the void a lot in order that it’s troublesome to see how the document signing regains his place within the staff. The season is coming to an finish – particularly if the German helps Chelsea in an unlikely European semi-final.