Martin Keown: There should be nothing to whine about in Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku’s must-win clash with Manchester City – the match should fit him to the tee.
- Commentator Martin Keown gives his thoughts on Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku
- Manchester City will face the Blues at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday at lunchtime
- Chelsea are 10 points behind Pep Guardiola’s team in the Premier League table
Manchester City has racked up an impressive winning streak of 11 consecutive matches. If they hit the impressive 12th today, they will most likely knock out one of their rivals from the title race.
Chelsea will be very far from catching up if they lose. Even a tie won’t help much. This is a must for Thomas Tuchel.
He beat Pep Guardiola three times towards the end of last season – in the FA Cup semi-finals, the Premier League and the Champions League final. Tuchel’s men should treat today as if it were another final.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City face Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel on Saturday
Tuchel beat Guardiola after beating City 1-0 in the 2019 Champions League final
City won 15 games on the highway en route to the title last season but Tuchel had his own record for that treble. I’m expecting a high quality and tactically engaging competition at Al Ittihad Stadium today between two great teams.
Chelsea is a special unit. A highly competitive team of individuals under the supervision of a coach whose attention to detail is second to none. Tuchel knows how to lead in tactical battles.
In the Champions League final, Kai Havertz scored the winning goal from a quick break. If Chelsea were to score today, it would probably come from that kind of movement, and that’s ready for Romelu Lukaku.
In that interview that got him into trouble with Tuchel, Lukaku said the system at Chelsea just didn’t suit him. Antonio Conte drove him at Inter Milan last season and used him up front.
Lukaku liked to drift towards the right side of the field where he could come to his favorite left foot. He enjoyed falling deep as well, so he could contribute on the counter-attack since Inter weren’t a possession-reliant team. Lukaku isn’t just a target guy or a one-man backboard.
He’s giant in the air but fast across the ground and great at holding the ball. This is what he effectively did for Inter. Chelsea are different. Tuchel uses Lukaku to head his 3-4-2-1 formation. He wants his teams to dominate possession and he is asking his players to press high.
But against City, there will be periods when Chelsea will miss the ball because that is what Guardiola’s team can do best. Sometimes visitors will need to get numbers about their chest and defense.
Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku has been tasked with helping his team beat Manchester City on Saturday
Lukaku had previously been criticized about the system at Chelsea that did not suit him in an interview
If Chelsea are not ready to do so, they can back down, as happened with Liverpool who scored twice in the first 26 minutes at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago. However, sitting back is not necessarily a bad thing for Chelsea. In fact, it could suit Lukaku, who will get his chance to take these kicks from the depths he’s been making for Inter.
This is a striker who could win a foot race against any of the City defences, so they and Rodri in midfield should be aware of his threat. In some clubs, such as Manchester United, Lukaku looked like a pussy cat. But when he has the right motivation, he turns into a tiger.
Lukaku, 28, went through a difficult period at Manchester United before moving to Inter Milan
The striker is scheduled to make his first start after his previous inclusion in the strong match
There’s been enough focus on Lukaku lately that I would expect him to want to rise to the challenge. There will be major fights all over the field today, including in the middle of the field.
N’Golo Kante is highly praised for his energy but I don’t think Mateo Kovacic gets nearly enough credit for his work ethic. Chelsea’s midfielders come a long way and will find themselves outnumbered in midfield at times, given the way City like to flood the area with their blue shirts.
As an accomplished tactician, Guardiola wouldn’t like the number of times Tuchel has outgrown him. He actually had to sit in a lot of post-match press conferences and explain why City lost to Chelsea because of his desire.
If Guardiola can emerge victorious today, he will completely get rid of his title challenger.