Home Sports Romelu Lukaku has gone SIX games without a Chelsea goal and is...

Romelu Lukaku has gone SIX games without a Chelsea goal and is struggling

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At the end of last season it was thought the only thing that could stop Chelsea from challenging for the Premier League title was a striker who guaranteed goals.

It was hoped Timo Werner would be that man when he signed from RB Leipzig 12 months ago but the German’s well-documented struggles meant he only managed 12 goals in his debut campaign at Stamford Bridge.

Despite winning the Champions League, Chelsea needed more from their attack with Thomas Tuchel basing his team around defensive stability in a 3-4-2-1 formation after arriving to replace Frank Lampard in January.

Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku is on a barren run in front of goal, going six games without scoring

Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku is on a barren run in front of goal, going six games without scoring

The Belgian drew a blank at Brentford last time out but Chelsea went on to win the game 1-0

The Belgian drew a blank at Brentford last time out but Chelsea went on to win the game 1-0

LUKAKU STATS 21-22 

Games: 10

Goals: 4

Assists: 0

Minutes played: 811

Minutes per goal: 203 

That is why they splashed out £98million on Romelu Lukaku, who was brought back to west London after a devastating period at Inter Milan where he scored 64 goals in 95 games.

The early signs were good. On his first Premier League appearance in his second spell, the Belgian dominated Arsenal’s defence at the Emirates, scoring once in a routine 2-0 win.

He then followed that up with a brace at home to Aston Villa to leave Stamford Bridge ecstatic and hopeful that they had found the final piece of the jigsaw that could take Tuchel’s men to the title. 

But, apart from the winner against Zenit Saint-Petersburg in the Champions League on September 14, Lukaku’s goals have dried up. He has not scored for Chelsea in five weeks. 

Lukaku’s recent form prompted a devastating put down from West Ham legend Paolo Di Canio on Italian TV. He described Lukaku as a ‘functional and dull’ player earlier this week.

On the Sky Calcio Club show, the 53-year-old said: ‘I heard (Giuseppe) Bergomi comparing (Napoli striker Victor) Osimhen and Lukaku. But Osimhen has a different spirit, he’s not dull like him.

‘When the difficulty increased he scored no goals in five games with Chelsea. And it’s not Chelsea’s fault, they are first (in the table) even without his goals.’

Paolo Di Canio said he thinks Lukaku is a 'dull and functional player' during a TV appearance

Paolo Di Canio said he thinks Lukaku is a ‘dull and functional player’ during a TV appearance

Lukaku missed a huge chance at Brentford, blazing over the bar when he had an open goal

Lukaku missed a huge chance at Brentford, blazing over the bar when he had an open goal

Di Canio, who played more than 100 times for West Ham and scored 47 goals for the club, went on to compare Lukaku with 36-year-old Udinese target man Fernando Llorente.  

‘Lukaku does not score. Lukaku is a functional player, as Llorente was in (Antonio) Conte’s Juve,’ he added.

‘Even if Lukaku is stronger than Llorente. Lukaku is functional to a certain type of game.’   

Lukaku’s barren run appeared to be over during the 1-0 win over Brentford at the weekend but his effort was disallowed because he had strayed offside. He later missed a sitter by blazing over an open goal.

Even though he has been wasteful when opportunities have presented themselves, Lukaku could also argue that the creativity behind him has been far from perfect.

There have been growing concerns among Chelsea supporters that, while Tuchel’s system provides brilliant defensive stability, it often leaves them struggling to make an impact up the other end of the pitch.

Thomas Tuchel insists he is not worried about Lukaku's lack of cutting edge in recent weeks

Thomas Tuchel insists he is not worried about Lukaku’s lack of cutting edge in recent weeks

Timo Werner, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz have all been in and out of the team behind Lukaku

Timo Werner, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz have all been in and out of the team behind Lukaku

In fact, during a pair of recent defeats by Manchester City and Juventus, Chelsea managed just five shots on target.

That is poor from a squad that contains the attacking threat the likes of Lukaku, Werner, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech bring.

The array of attacking options at Tuchel’s disposal means he often rotates those players in the two attacking midfield spots behind Lukaku. 

Chelsea have games against Malmo and Norwich this week, with Lukaku surely confident he will be back among the goals

Chelsea have games against Malmo and Norwich this week, with Lukaku surely confident he will be back among the goals

Havertz, Mount and Werner have all played roughly the same amount of minutes, standing out as the preferred options over Ziyech and Hudson-Odoi, while Christian Pulisic is injured.

It is also true that the deeper midfielders – N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho – are not overly creative and their role in this team is more to regain possession and offload rather than get forward. 

But perhaps the key is to play Mount more often, as the stats show he links up with Lukaku the best. 

Mount, who has played just 357 minutes so far in the Premier League this season, has played more passes into the Belgian striker per 90 minutes than anybody else.

Tuchel insists he is not worried about Lukaku’s lack of cutting edge in recent weeks.

He defended the striker after the Brentford win and said: ‘I am not concerned as I felt him a bit tired, and then isolated because we were defending too deep as a block.

‘I felt him a bit tired. Altogether we produced a very strong 60 to 75 minutes, including Romelu and Timo (Werner).

‘Both of them, Romelu and Timo, were too far away to help us escape the pressure. That was the problem, but I have no concerns.

‘Normally the best thing is that he scores but he is very unselfish at the moment, looking for Timo in good situations.

‘And we had him in the situation (to score), it was a close offside decision.’ 

Lukaku flourished at Inter Milan but must rediscover that form if Chelsea are to win the league

Lukaku flourished at Inter Milan but must rediscover that form if Chelsea are to win the league

But with Lukaku desperate to end his goal-scoring drought, he will be licking his lips at the prospect of Chelsea’s next two matches.

They take on Malmo in the Champions League on tonight at Stamford Bridge with the Swedish side having conceded seven goals already in their two group games. 

Chelsea then concluded the week with another home game, this time against strugglers Norwich City who already look destined for relegation to the Championship.

Lukaku will most definitely fancy his chances of getting back among the goals in what looks like an appetising week and Tuchel will also be desperate to see his No 9 hit top form quickly, otherwise the Blues risk losing ground in the title race.

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