Sunday, December 17, 2017

Can Romelu Lukaku deliver in the big north west derby?

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 13 Oct 2017

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On Saturday lunchtime, two of English football’s tradition giants go head-to-head at Anfield, as Liverpool host Manchester United.

The game is one of the biggest of the season for the two sets of fans. It is more than just football rivalry. It is almost like a tribal rivalry. While rivalries change, the rivalry between Liverpool and United always seems to remain heated.

The Red Devils head to Merseyside in good form, having recorded victories in nine of their last ten games in all competitions. However, a trip to Anfield is always a tough one for the visitors, even if the home side have been inconsistent this season.

One man in particular will be keen help United maintain their recent good run of form, that man is striker Romelu Lukaku. The former Everton ace has hit the ground running in Manchester, scoring seven goals in as many games in the English top-flight this season and 11 in ten appearances in all competitions.

Lukaku accused of being a flat-track bully

In the past, the Belgian international striker has been accused of being a flat-track bully. At Everton, he tended to score many of goals against poor quality opposition. It would be unfair to say that about just Lukaku, as most prolific strikers will score more goals against poorer opposition than the top teams.

The striker did also tend to score goals that were not necessarily vital to his teams cause. The stat that is often used is that Everton would have finished in the same position last season without his goals. In other words, his goals meant very little in the grand scheme of things.

Everton’s struggles in front of goal this season suggest that the striker was vital to the Toffees, though. The way the Merseysiders are playing, it would be hard to see any player proving prolific in that team.

The fact is that Lukaku’s statistics against the top-six are poor. The big striker has played against last season’s top-six on 35 occasions since season 2014/15 and scored just five goals. It is worth noting that three of those five goals came against Liverpool.

Playing for United is very different

One argument to the lack of goals from Lukaku in that time is that he was playing for Everton and not United. The Toffees have had a tendency to set up to play defensively against the top-six sides in recent years.

That defensive thinking has on many occasions saw Lukaku isolated up front and with very little support, even at times in home games. At United so far, his team have went out to attack in every game and he has had players supporting him in attack.

United boss Jose Mourinho may change his tactics for Saturday’s game at Anfield. The Portuguese boss has a history of parking the boss in big games, so could do the same in this clash.

However, Mourinho can park the boss with the players he has available to him. The likes of Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard all have the pace to hit teams on the break.

Lukaku fancied to scored back on Merseyside

Romelu Lukaku returns to Merseyside on Saturday for the first time since leaving Everton in the summer. Despite his struggles in the past against the big teams, Lukaku is the favourite at 7/2 to open the scoring at Anfield on Saturday.

The Belgian striker has started his United career well and will head into this clash confident that he can continue his good goal scoring record this season against a unconvincing Reds defence.

There are still those who question the striker’s credentials as a top striker. Tomorrow’s game will be a chance for him to start proving his doubters wrong and start repaying some of his huge fee.

Will Romelu Lukaku score against Liverpool on Saturday?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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