Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku has now gone six matches without a goal for the club and despite the Blues staying top of the Premier League with a win at Brentford, expectations are high
Chelsea remain Premier League leaders after Saturday’s victory away at Brentford with Thomas Tuchel’s side securing another impressive clean sheet.
It was a West London derby that was not without its fair share of scares for the Blues, who were under the cosh for large periods of the match and whose victory was largely due to an inspired performance from goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
This was not the first time this season that the Blues have managed to grind out a victory while being far from convincing and despite the positivity, there is a question mark over their performance in the final third.
It was also the sixth successive match in which Romelu Lukaku failed to score for his new club, having scored four goals in his opening four matches.
The striker had netted for Belgium in their Nations League defeat to France and returned early from the international break due to a ‘muscle overload’.
Blues boss Thomas Tuchel admitted after the game that his decision to sub the striker off in the second half was because he was ‘tired’.
Tuchel told reporters: “I felt he was a bit tired today.
“Altogether we did a very strong 60 to 75 minutes, including Romelu and Timo. I am not concerned as I felt him a bit tired and then isolated because we were defending as a block too deep.
“Both of them, Timo and Romelu, were too far away to help us and escape the pressure.
“That was the problem today. But I have no concerns.
“Normally, the best thing is he scores but he is very unselfish at the moment, looking for Timo in good situations, and when we had him in the situation it was a close offside decision.”
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It was not the first time that Lukaku was isolated up front and, despite scoring a goal that was – correctly – ruled out for offside, there is likely to be concern that he is going through a rough patch in form.
Brentford boss Thomas Frank said on Lukaku ahead of the match: “I look at that team thinking that’s a good side, I’m pretty sure Lukaku is paid more than our entire starting XI so they have enough quality.”
Chelsea broke their club record transfer to sign the Belgian international for £97.5million this summer and his current goal drought will be amplified by that price tag.
Lukaku was signed with the expectation of elevating Chelsea into title challengers at a minimum – with an expectation that he will deliver upwards of 20 Premier League goals this campaign if he stays injury free.
That an opposition manager is highlighting the sum of money that the Blues are paying out for the striker shows that, somewhat inevitably, it will make him a target with an increased expectancy of what he will deliver on the pitch.
Lukaku’s second stint at Stamford Bridge is still very much in its embryonic stage and there is little doubt over his ability to deliver, but the price tag involved means there is little room for error and little time for patience.