Saturday’s FA Cup final could have been billed as a battle between two of the Premier League’s blockbuster strikers, but both Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata may start on the bench at Wembley.
Lukaku is a doubt for the game as he tries to recover from a foot injury, while Morata appears to have been usurped by January arrival Olivier Giroud as the first-choice forward for Antonio Conte’s Chelsea.
Belgium’s record goalscorer was heavily linked with a return to Stamford Bridge before opting to join forces with his close friend Paul Pogba at Manchester United, leaving the Blues to purchase Morata from Real Madrid for a reported club-record fee of £70million.
Here, we assess the Opta numbers to judge whether or not Lukaku and Morata’s respective debut campaigns at their new clubs can be deemed a success or a failure.
Mourinho on Lukaku: “He’s coming here in the right moment of his career. He’s still young but he has years of Premier League experience.” pic.twitter.com/1JYmnIK3UM
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 14, 2017
Hitting the back of the net is obviously the primary job for a striker and Lukaku has left Morata in the shade here, scoring 27 times in 50 appearances for United, while Morata has managed just 15 strikes from 47 games for Chelsea.
Lukaku has, however, been less prolific than in his final campaign for Everton, when he scored 25 times in the Premier League alone, ending the 2017-18 campaign with 16 league goals to his name.
Morata’s nine headed goals are a rare metric where he has managed to outperform Lukaku (six) this season, but his chance conversion rate of 12.61 per cent is not just worse than Lukaku’s impressive 20.45 per cent, it is also short of Giroud’s 13.51 per cent.
Of the three strikers, Lukaku unsurprisingly has the best minutes per goal ratio in all competitions this season at 150.15, which compares favourably with Giroud’s 168.4 and Morata’s 184.27, the Spaniard’s record slipping to worse than a goal every other game.
Lukaku also seems to thrive in the FA Cup, scoring 12 times in his 12 appearances in the competition to date, whereas Chelsea’s top scorer in the cup this season remains Michy Batshuayi, despite the striker leaving the club to join Borussia Dortmund on loan in January.
5 – Players to win the most Premier League points for their side with their goals this season:
22 – Harry Kane (30 goals)
16 – Mohamed Salah (32 goals)
12 – Chris Wood (10 goals)
11 – Romelu Lukaku (16 goals)
11 – Raheem Sterling (18 goals)
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 14, 2018
Lukaku’s 27 goals in all competitions would be a solid initial return on the £75m United paid to sign the striker, but he has also delivered nine assists for his team-mates, showing his all-round positive impact.
Morata, meanwhile, has recorded six assists in all competitions, with Giroud lagging behind on three, Lukaku topping the charts for chance creation compared to the Chelsea duo with 54.
The Belgian still has work to do on his hold-up play, though, as his passing accuracy stands at 69.34 per cent since leaving Everton, whereas former Juventus striker Morata keeps possession with 72.34 per cent of his attempted passes.
Opta numbers appear to suggest Lukaku’s all-round contribution has eclipsed that of Morata, but there is not too much to choose between the two strikers in this department.
9 – Alvaro Morata has scored nine headed goals in all comps; two more than any other Premier League player. Bonce.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 22, 2018
WHEN THEY’RE ABSENT
United appear to have missed Lukaku badly in recent weeks, scoring only once in the three Premier League matches – a Marcus Rashford tap-in to beat Watford – since the striker suffered his foot injury in a 2-1 defeat of Arsenal at Old Trafford.
In sharp contrast, with Morata missing a few games due to a loss of form compounded by a back complaint, Chelsea’s results do not seem to have declined at all when he has not been available for selection.
Chelsea have won 54.5 per cent of their matches in all competitions without Morata, while this figure stands at a slightly lower 53.2 per cent for games in which the Spaniard has featured.
United’s decline without Lukaku is more marked, Jose Mourinho’s men scoring 1.9 goals a game on average when he is in the team compared to just 1.4 per cent when the striker is out.
The Red Devils have won 68 per cent of their games with Lukaku, which drops to 60 per cent without him, indicating the Belgian is a much more pivotal player for their FA Cup hopes than Morata is for Chelsea.
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