Everton managed to move level on points with Arsenal at the weekend with a convincing home victory over Hull City. It looks like 7th place will be good enough for the Toffees to earn a Europa League place this season and they are now seven points clear of West Brom in 8th. Although they will be looking to climb into the top six before the end of the season, consolidating their current position will be their main aim and they are doing an excellent job of doing that with only one loss in their last ten league matches.
The player that stood out on Saturday was Romelu Lukaku. This week has seen reports that the striker won’t sign a new deal and will instead look for a move during the summer. The Belgian has the ability to play in the Champions League and his recent form has underlined that fact. It is not a surprise that he wants to leave Goodison Park as he has outgrown the club over the past 12 months, but it is clear from his recent performances that he remains committed to the cause for the time being at least. The 23-year-old has his sights firmly on finishing as the league’s top scorer as he moved to lead the standings thanks to his two goals on Saturday.
His first goal came as a result of a nice run in behind the defence before he placed the ball into the back of the net. It was a typically calm finish which emphasises that confidence that the Belgian has at the moment. However, it was the movement that was most impressive. He always chooses the right time to make his run and often finds space to exploit. His first goal was scored during stoppage time at the end of the second half, but he showed no sign of settling for one and managed to grab a second during the dying moments. This time, he showed his awareness to pounce on a loose back pass and rounded the keeper to score. He is unplayable at the moment and these two goals allow him to maintain his momentum.
It is not only his goal threat that makes him difficult to play against, but he is also an excellent creator as shown by his six assists this season. He set up the second goal on Saturday with an incredible piece of skill to lift the ball over the Hull City back four to find Enner Valencia who slotted into the net. The assist made the finish easy for his team-mate and this extra dimension to his game makes him a complete striker.
During the match, he attempted six shots, completed both his attempted dribbles and made one key pass. The one minor disappointment to his performance was his aerial presence. He completed only two of seven nine aerial duels, which isn’t good enough for a player with his physique. Hull managed to deal with him comfortably in the air and this is something that Lukaku needs to improve over the coming weeks. The Belgian is a powerful unit and it is important that he uses that to his advantage.
It was a complete performance from the Belgian striker. He has now scored nine goals and contributed two assists during his last six league matches. Given Harry Kane’s recent injury, it is difficult to see the 23-year-old being beaten to the golden boot this season. If he does manage to win the award, it will mark a coming of age for the forward. He has long been tipped for big things since arriving at Chelsea in 2011 and he is now realising his huge potential. Although it will be disappointing for Everton fans, it is the right time for him to move on at the end of the season and test himself at the highest level. His performances in 2017 suggest he is now good enough to make the step up.
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