Romelu Lukaku ineffectiveness continued yesterday against Crystal Palace, having fewer touches in the game than any since 2003.
On their return to Premier League action, Chelsea defeated Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park thanks to an 89th-minute goal from Hakim Ziyech.
In their match against Crystal Palace, Chelsea were not at their best. They weren’t against Palmeiras in the Club World Cup final, for example. Or vs Al Hilal in the semi-final. Alternatively, in a slew of Blues matchups during the last two months.
Romelu Lukaku conundrum continues
Romelu Lukaku was hoping to carry his Club World Cup success into the Premier League after scoring in back-to-back games. Unfortunately for the Belgian attacker, the exact opposite happened.
At Selhurst Park, he only touched the ball seven times in 90 minutes, one of which was the kick-off.
Since Opta began collecting statistics in 2003, no player has had less touches in a Premier League game than Lukaku versus Crystal Palace.
The 28-year-old has some responsibility for this; he should have done more to ensure his involvement. Despite popular belief, Lukaku was not just a statuesque presence in the face of Palace.
There were multiple occasions throughout the game that the striker spun off the shoulder of an Eagles defender when a Chelsea player had unchallenged possession.
Yet not once did a pass over the top come despite Lukaku specifically demanding one from Antonio Rudiger in the opening period.
The only occasion a pass was slipped through to Lukaku was with 16 minutes to play.
It came from Kovacic and led to Belgium’s all-time top scorer forcing a good stop from Butland before Ziyech tapped home the rebound. Of course, the goal was then ruled out by VAR.
“I’m not so sure if I have a good answer,” Tuchel responded, a little bluntly when asked about Lukaku’s ineffectiveness after the game.
“I don’t know what it [the lack of touches] says. It says he was obviously not involved and could not make a point today. I am not sure if it says so much about us in general.”
Tuchel has often called Lukaku the “reference” within Chelsea’s attack, something which may explain why the number nine rarely moves away from centre-backs into the channels.
And unless something changes rather dramatically, it’s difficult to envisage a sharp upturn in performance from the former Inter Milan star.