How Romelu Lukaku Can Offer Chelsea Another Tactical Approach

Romelu Lukaku

Signing one of the best strikers in the world in his prime would be a great transfer for any team. But for Chelsea, signing Romelu Lukaku could be the move that takes them from a great team to world-beaters.

Of course, the Champions League and Super Cup trophies could show that Chelsea are indeed already world-beaters. But the difference is that the Blues were able to win those trophies without a real attacking superstar.

Kai Havertz is a superstar in the making but didn’t have the best debut season overall. Timo Werner’s work may have been underappreciated last season, but his conversion rate was still not even close to good enough to be leading the line for a team that won the Champions League.

Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech both showed glimpses of talent and contributed to the victory, as of course did Mason Mount, the team’s main driving force. However, none of these players had superstar seasons, which means the trophy was won because of the strength of the unit.

Now in Romelu Lukaku, Thomas Tuchel has that attacking powerhouse he was looking for. Not only can he improve a lacklustre conversion rate, but he can be the man who leads Chelsea back to Europe’s summit.

How Romelu Lukaku Can Offer Chelsea Another Tactical Approach

A Dominant Focal Point, Lukaku Creates Chances for Himself and Others

Tuchel would have been very impressed by Lukaku’s debut against Arsenal, where he absolutely bullied the centre-backs all match and got a goal to show for it. However, his second game, a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Liverpool, would arguably have impressed him more.

After a decent first half, where he got the better of defensive giant Virgil Van Dijk and his partner Joel Matip a few times, the situation changed drastically for Chelsea. After a brilliant Havertz header opened the scoring, Reece James was sent off in a very controversial decision by referee Anthony Taylor in first-half stoppage time. Mohamed Salah converted the penalty, and Liverpool had all the momentum going into the break.

Chelsea came back out in a 5-3-1, with Havertz making way for Thiago Silva and Mount slotting into the midfield. Lukaku was the sole man up top. That was basically Tuchel saying to him, “you’re on your own, try and make something happen”.

He didn’t score, which can be expected since Liverpool dominated possession, but he performed admirably. The Belgian fought for every ball and more often than not was able to hold it up well. It was gritty, and he had to grind out every single touch he got, but it was effective. Even when he was running on fumes, he was able to create chances.

A move he started ended in his goalbound effort being blocked, virtually on the line, by Matip. He then exchanged a give-and-go with Mateo Kovacic that forced a decent reaction save from Alisson that could’ve won the game. All in all, anything that was good in that second half going forward came from him.

Even down to ten men, at Anfield, going up against the likes of Van Dijk with no support, he was able to hold his own. Imagine what he’ll be able to do when he has that support and isn’t facing arguably the best defender in the world.

The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

While Lukaku’s performance against Liverpool was certainly a bright spot, the overwhelmingly clear bright spot was once again the defence. Placed in a horrible situation, a man down at Anfield, they were able to repel everything that was thrown at them.

Silva, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta all put in absolutely brilliant performances, and of course, Edouard Mendy behind them was able to pick up any slack with six saves.

Liverpool threw the kitchen sink at them, and having Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, Trent Alexander-Arnold and co. launching attack after attack isn’t the ideal scenario for a defensive line.

But no matter what they did, Chelsea always seemed to have the answer for them. The Blues did the same thing in the Champions League last season, and that’s a major reason as to why they were able to win it.

Add to that a very talented midfield, where the UEFA Player of the Year and Midfielder of the Year, which oddly enough are different people, ply their trades. Jorginho and N’Golo Kante, as well as Kovacic, comprise a world-class midfield that can hold its own against any team.

Tuchel also has an embarrassment of riches on the wings, with Mount, Havertz, Ziyech, Pulisic, Werner, and Hudson-Odoi all available for just two positions. The only thing that was missing was the dominant striker, the man to link everything together.

Now, Tuchel has got his man, his defence and midfield are as strong as ever, and the team has truly become a fully-oiled machine.

The manager said it best when he took over in January: “We will build a team that nobody wants to play against.”

That team has arrived, and with Romelu Lukaku leading the charge, Chelsea look poised to make another run at major silverware this season.

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