Romelu Lukaku must shake off ‘dull’ tag at Chelsea after Thomas Tuchel’s comments

Thomas Tuchel gives verdict on Chelsea's 1-0 win at Brentford

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Chelsea are top of the Premier League and flying high under Thomas Tuchel following their battling win over Brentford on Saturday evening. But there is one small, nagging worry for the Blues at this stage in the season: the form of Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku was signed for £97.5million from Inter Milan in the summer transfer window and was widely viewed as the missing piece of the puzzle for Chelsea.

Chelsea won the Champions League in May, but their Premier League campaign had been hampered by the lack of a world-class goalscorer, with Jorginho topping the goalscoring charts with seven penalties.

In came Lukaku, fresh off the back of the back of scoring 30 goals in 44 appearances for title-winning Inter Milan last season.

Here was a confident, well-rounded striker who already had 113 Premier League goals to his name.

And the early signs were good – exactly as good as everyone had predicted. Lukaku scored on his second Chelsea debut against Arsenal and netted twice against Aston Villa in his third league match.

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He followed that brace with a trademark header in a tight 1-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League. But since then there has been nothing.

After drawing a blank in the 1-0 win over Brentford, which came courtesy of a sweet strike from Ben Chilwell, Lukaku is now on a six-game barren run in front of goal.

Lukaku was fairly anonymous against the Bees, too: he had just 19 touches of the ball, completed only eight passes and attempted one shot.

Tuchel substituted his star striker after 76 minutes, but insisted after the final whistle that he was not worried by Lukaku’s form.

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“Both of them, Romelu and Timo [Werner], were too far away to help us escape the pressure,” Tuchel said. “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.”

That may well be true – and his performances are of less concern when the team is winning – but Lukaku’s primary role is to score goals.

Although Tuchel might not be worried, Lukaku will want to silence his critics, who include former West Ham striker Paolo di Canio, who compared the Belgian unfavourably to Napoli’s Victor Osimhen on the weekend.

“I heard [Giuseppe] Bergomi comparing Osimhen and Lukaku,” Di Canio told the Sky Calcio Club Show. “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 even without his goals.

“Lukaku does not score. Lukaku is a functional player, as he is (Fernando) Llorente was in [Antonio] Conte’s Juve.

“Even if Lukaku is stronger than Llorente. Lukaku is functional to a certain type of game.”

The words “dull” and “functional”, even loosely translated from Italian, are cutting ones for a striker, especially one like Lukaku who has an exceptional goalscoring record.

Luckily for him, Chelsea have a favourable run of fixtures on the horizon.

Having lost 1-0 to both Manchester City and Juventus at the end of September, the Blues next run of games reads: Malmo (h), Norwich (h), Southampton (h), Newcastle (a), Malmo (a), Burnley (h).

Malmo are bottom of Group H after losing both of their matches so far by an aggregate score of 0-7.

Norwich, Newcastle and Burnley make up the current bottom three of the Premier League, while Southampton only got their first league win of the season on Saturday.

Tuchel could hardly have hand-picked better fixtures for his misfiring striker. Lukaku is a quality player. There is little doubt he will bounce back.

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