Things have not gone perfectly for Romelu Lukaku since his return to Stamford Bridge this summer.
Despite netting four goals in as many games during the opening run of the season, the Belgian forward has failed to register another strike since the 1-0 win over Zenit in the Champions League last month. For recent games, Lukaku has appeared more isolated and a passenger in Chelsea’s play.
Questions have been posed over whether Thomas Tuchel is getting the best out of the Belgian’s ability within the current system, though former Spurs player and manager Tim Sherwood has put all the responsibility on Lukaku to perform better in big games, following his recent goal drought.
In Chelsea’s two biggest Premier League games so far away at Liverpool and at home to Manchester City, Lukaku has failed to score and Sherwood comes to the conclusion he is a “flat-track bully”.
Speaking to Optus Sport, Sherwood said: “Romelu has to do it against the big teams, for me, it’s still a question mark on him.
“I think he’s fantastic. He takes them to another level and he’s better than the players they had in that position. But he’s a flat-track bully.
“He’s someone who rolls over the lesser teams, he scores multiples against the lesser teams. He needs to go and do it against the Liverpool’s.
“I think he got a raw deal there [at United]. I think he looks happier now coming back to the Premier League, he’s got unfinished business at Stamford Bridge. I still think he’s one of the best strikers in world football but I’d really like to see him do it against the top sides.
“Let us not make excuses. We’re making excuses. He didn’t do it against Manchester City because the service wasn’t there. Top drawer players find a way to do it.
“Look at Mo Salah, he’s a perfect example. He turns up against Man City – produces that finish. He turns up against the big teams.” Romelu Lukaku has failed to score in his latest five Chelsea appearances.
It is not surprising to hear Sherwood produce quite a basic take that lacks any nuance or context over both games against Liverpool and City. One where the Blues were reduced to 10 men for 45 minutes at Anfield, and the other where the forward simply had little service, producing the lowest xG (Expected Goals) score of the Thomas Tuchel era.
Apart from the reasoning you could give for both, the criticism misses the mark over where Chelsea have predominantly struggled for goals in recent seasons, and what they needed to close the gap on Manchester City.
For several years, the Blues have had a regular tendency to stumble against opponents they are expected to beat. Either being easily stifled by an organised low-block or not having the clinical edge to put away the good chances they create.
This was demonstrated under Tuchel last season with drab draws at home to the likes of Wolves and Brighton where Chelsea’s attack had little invention or quality to unlock lower quality tests. Lukaku being labelled a “flat-track bully” is absolutely what Chelsea needed this term, to put away the games they must win if they want to seriously compete for a Premier League title.
This tag is also just lazy if Sherwood spent any time watching his performances that lead Inter Milan to the Scudetto under Antonio Conte.
His performance in the Milan derby, completely obliterating Inter’s closest challengers 3-1, scoring one outstanding solo goal and setting up the first demonstrated Lukaku’s elite mentality to produce in the most pressurised moments.
The run to the Champions League success back in May proved the Blues could triumph against great opposition, their biggest flaw was in lesser hyped games.
As one of the world’s best finishers, Romelu Lukaku will eventually score in big games, but for Tuchel the impact he has already had in wins over Arsenal, Aston Villa and Zenit vindicate why the club spent £98m on him.
What are your thoughts on Sherwood’s Lukaku comments? Follow our CareFreeChelsea Writer Daniel Childs on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below
Source by Football London