Analysis: Has Romelu Lukaku returned to form ahead of a crucial week for Everton?
It wasn’t the result that Everton wanted this weekend as they were on the wrong side of a 3-2 score-line away to Watford, but there was one positive for the Toffees as Romelu Lukaku returned to form with a brace. The Belgian had gone four league matches without a goal and it was a growing concern for Ronald Koeman as there are few other reliable goal threats in the squad. His long term future is uncertain and the start of the season suggests that it might be best for both the player and Everton if he does move on in the next 12 months.
Against Watford, he led the line impressively and didn’t give the Watford defenders a moment’s rest. His movement caused a lot of problems and the striker will be disappointed that his performance didn’t lead to an Everton win. There are few other strikers in the league that strike fear into opposition defenders in the same way that Lukaku does. His inconsistency is a shame as he could be one of the leading strikers in world football, but it could be that he lacks motivation playing at the level that Everton do. He showed what he can do when he does fancy it against Watford, but Everton need him to perform at that level a lot more frequently if they are to challenge for a European spot this season.
During the match, he managed to get five shots in, two of which ended up in the back of the net. He was the only goal threat that Everton had on the pitch and their reliance on him has to be a concern for Koeman. His first goal displayed his impressive movement as he timed his run perfectly to get behind the back four and slotted past Heurelho Gomes. Meanwhile, his second goal was a good header, which showed his aerial ability. He is a complete striker and showed that with two different types of goal this weekend.
Lukaku led the line well and put himself about, winning 25% of his aerial duels. Although it wasn’t his best performance in the air, he came up against two physical centre backs and ended the match with two goals. It was his work rate that was most impressive on Saturday as he did a lot of running off the ball for his side, while his pressing from the front was much improved. He won both of his attempted tackles and that will please Koeman, who will want to see a better defensive contribution from his attackers. It isn’t something that is associated with Lukaku and it is encouraging that he is working on that side of his game.
Although he was a threat and worked hard for his side, Lukaku struggled to link up play as effectively as he normally does. He finished the match with a 52% pass completion rate and that is significantly lower than what Koeman would have expected. A lot of promising attacks ended because Lukaku gave up possession and that needs to be much better when Everton play away from home. He has all the tools to be a complete striker, but there are areas of his game that aren’t up to the required level and this is one of them.
It was a good performance from Lukaku and the two goals were crucial in providing him with confidence ahead of a busy December. Throughout his career, he has been a streaky player and Everton fans will be hoping that trend continues over the coming weeks. Everton have two huge matches against Arsenal and Liverpool coming up in the next seven days and they will need their talismanic forward to be among the goals if they are to have a chance of picking up some points.
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