Romelu Lukaku’s return to Stamford Bridge has been widely celebrated – but the Belgian star risks repeating the problems of his disappointing time at Manchester United.
The Blues’ record signing has been in good shape since returning to the club for £ 97.5million this summer.
He scored on his London derby debut, terrorizing Arsenal’s newly formed defense in the 2-0 victory.
Lukaku went on to score a brace against Aston Villa and one against FC Zenit, bringing him to four goals in his first four games, but he has been unable to find his way to the net since.
As in the United days, Lukaku had no problem intimidating teams at the bottom of the table.
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Considered a “flat bully” for this trend, Lukaku has been the quietest this season when Chelsea needed him most.
Facing Liverpool, Manchester City and Juventus, Lukaku was particularly silent.
He hasn’t been able to face some of Europe’s best center-backs, as Virgil van Dijk, Leonardo Bonucci and Ruben Dias have all reduced the striker to a footnote in those games.
If Lukaku is to keep his name in the Best No.9 conversation, these are games he needs to be good at.
But, just like he did for United in 2018, Lukaku has so far floundered and failed to shine in the biggest games.
In his first 14 months for United, Lukaku scored 31 goals and only one of them was against a top-six team, despite having played against them 12 times.
In the rest of his games, he scored 30 in 37 starts against all other opponents.
Since joining Chelsea, the big games have passed him.
But it’s those games that will decide who owns the silverware at the end of the season and who doesn’t.
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Mohamed Salah has proven how valuable a big game striker can be.
In Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against Manchester City, the Reds were arguably the poorest team, but the Egyptian set up his team’s first and slalomed alone into the opposing defense for a magnificent second. .
And yet, when Chelsea battled City, Lukaku cut a languid, lonely figure at the top.
This is of course not entirely his fault, the team around him also struggled.
But Lukaku’s inability to make an impact on big games on his own, to drag out a result, is an issue that haunted him in United days and if this continues it could be a problem for Tuchel and Chelsea in the future.