It’s official: Chelsea have a Lukaku crisis

Robin Bairner
Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea, 2021-22

Romelu Lukaku’s feud with Chelsea may have blown over, but the Belgium striker’s problems at the club have a long way to run after an abysmal showing during the Blues’ 1-0 loss to Manchester City.

Signed for a club-record fee from Inter in the summer, the striker was drafted in to provide his team the difference in matches such as Saturday’s against a team that now must be considered the Premier League champions elect.

The conditions were admittedly difficult for him given that Chelsea spent much of the game defending, but the numbers that he produced were entirely unworthy of a player of his stature.

Tuchel slams Lukaku

Manager Thomas Tuchel was not appreciative of Lukaku's performance in his post-match comments to BT Sport, which suggests another full-blown war might begin.

"Lukaku sometimes needs to do the service, he is included in this, he had many ball losses in very promising circumstances, he had a huge chance," he said. "Of course we want to serve him, but he is part of the team, and the performance up front, we can do much better."

Lukaku's miserable Man City stats

Let’s get the positives out of the way first: he managed Chelsea’s only shot on target of the match, which came shortly after the break.

The negatives? Virtually everything else.

Over the course of the game, he managed just 21 touches yet still managed to give possession away on 10 occasions – joint third most out of any Chelsea outfield player. He posted just five completed passes – Callum Hudson-Odoi, who came on with around 20 minutes remaining, managed more and Mason Mount, who played 10 minutes, only had one fewer – and achieved a completion rate of just 58%.

The powerful frontman also failed in terms of his combativity. From the seven duels he competed in, he failed to win a single one. He competed in more aerial duels than anyone else on the field but again he failed to win a single one.

Lukaku v Man City

Shots on target1
Shots off target0
Passes completed5
Pass completion58%
Duels won0
Aerial duels won0

What about as a defensive presence, then? Did he at least manage to worry the Manchester City defence in some capacity?

The short answer is no. He failed to post a tackle or interception throughout the game and won back the ball only once.

Whether the problem is with Lukaku or the system he is being forced to play in, it is abundantly clear that it is not working for Chelsea’s marquee summer arrival, and he is presently taking up a jersey that would be better served by someone else. The situation is critical now.