Thursday, October 19, 2017

Lukaku to Manchester United adds more Belgian interest to Premier League title race

SoccerNews in English Premier League 8 Jul 2017

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Romelu Lukaku’s blockbusting move to Manchester United represents a key pillar of Jose Mourinho’s plans to launch a Premier League title challenge at the second attempt at Old Trafford.

But a Belgium international pursuing the top prize in English football is certainly nothing new, with an exceptional generation of Red Devils talent represented across those sides chasing glory.

Can Lukaku unseat Chelsea superstar Eden Hazard this time around, or will Manchester City’s Kevin De Bryune, Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele or Liverpool’s Divock Origi muscle in on the title picture. Alternatively, Arsenal could upset fans of Belgium players everywhere…

 

CHELSEA

As in their 2014-15 Premier League triumph, Hazard was Chelsea’s dazzling creative inspiration as they romped home under Antonio Conte last time around with 16 goals and five assists amid numerous exquisite playmaking displays. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois racked up 16 clean sheets to claim the Golden Glove award and, while compatriot Michy Batshuayi was left to play a more marginal role, the 23-year-old striker scored decisively in the title-clinching win at West Brom in May.

TOTTENHAM

Spurs boasted the most miserly defence in the Premier League, conceding only 26 times – something that owed much to the consistent excellence of Belgium duo Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld marshalling the backline. In midfield, Mousa Dembele is finally realising the potential granted to him by sublime technique and imposing physical attributes.

MANCHESTER CITY

In an interview with L’Esportiu, Pep Guardiola wondered how his trophyless first season at the Etihad Stadium might have panned out with a fully fit Vincent Kompany. The City captain produced a string of dominant displays from centre-back during a closing stretch to tentatively suggest his injury woes might be behind him. Kevin De Bruyne was a constant source of goals in midfield, weighing in with six strikes of his own and a league-best 18 assists.

LIVERPOOL

Simon Mignolet might have a thankless task with Courtois ahead of him at international level but he saw off the challenge of Loris Karius to regain Jurgen Klopp’s trust and end 2016-17 as Liverpool’s number one. Divock Origi gave the German a physical, pacy alternative in his fluid attacking line and weighed in with 11 goals across all competitions.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Lukaku will have designs on becoming an Old Trafford hero, even if it has not quite panned out that way for his countryman Marouane Fellaini. The rangy midfielder’s United career is destined to be for ever linked to David Moyes’ ill-fated tenure as manager but he rode out the boo boys last season to establish himself as a useful member of Mourinho’s squad and excelled as an integral part of the Portuguese’s game plan in the Europa League final triumph over Ajax.

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