Why Lukaku Was The Missing Piece In The Jigsaw for Chelsea

In recent years, Chelsea haven’t had a prolific striker who is a proven goalscorer. Their struggles with the striker position since Costa’s departure, has led to a carousel of expensive incomings and outgoings. It was no wonder that Lukaku was priced at €97 million, as he has been one of the best strikers in Europe.

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Lukaku’s influence in the game against Arsenal was immense. We could witness his ability to bully defenders, as he brushed off Pablo Mari and scored the opening goal in the 15th minute of the game. Chelsea have been creating the same kind of chances for a long time, but no one in the box would carry on their run to inside the six-yard zone. Lukaku has been scoring from similar areas for Inter, as their setup enables Hakimi to attack down the right channel and look Lukaku in those positions.

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Lukaku is used to playing in a three-at-the-back system, first with Belgium, then with Inter, and now for Chelsea. His arrival will allow the wing-backs to further flourish in their roles, as his hold up play creates the time and space to allow them to get further up the pitch. Lukaku’s movement, dropping deeper to receive the ball from either of Jorgingo or Kovacic creates further space for second-man runners like Havertz and Werner to penetrate through the channels. There is obviously room for improvement, especially from Werner and Havertz, as they will need to capitalise on these half spaces to relive some of the goalscoring burden from Lukaku. Chelsea created an xG of 3.05, 1.44 of which was contributed by Lukaku in some way.

With Lukaku and Havertz up front, Chelsea’s midfield pivots were trying to find them and draw them to open the spaces behind. Over the years, Lukaku has improved his link-up play and has obtained so much experience that will only benefit the youngsters in the team. A seasoned striker such as Lukaku could be the one that would take off the some of pressure from the youngsters and allow them to excel in their roles.

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His link-up with Lautaro Martinez at Inter Milan was colossal, and the same can be expected with Timo Werner, but only if Werner works on his technical abilities. With Lukaku being a lone striker, he can run in behind the defenders and allow other attackers to get in better positions and provide the same amount of assists as he amassed at Inter. His goalscoring numbers aren’t deceptive either, proved by by the fact that he has been scoring the same amount of goals(24) as which his xG(23.43) showcases.

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After the game against Arsenal, it looks clear that Chelsea will continue to play with a false-nine alongside Lukaku to benefit them in terms of goals. Ultimately the decision needs to be taken by Tuchel, and it seems like that he will persist with two up top. Also knowing for a fact that Lukaku can dribble past defenders, Tuchel will be ready to deploy him along with players who are more creative and can find him in good goalscoring positions. People might think that it might be an overreaction, but Lukaku may be the final piece of the jigsaw for Chelsea and Tuchel.

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