'Not working very well': Pat Nevin says Chelsea need to change the way they play with 28-year-old
Pat Nevin suggested that Chelsea need to find a different way to work with Romelu Lukaku.
Speaking on Off the Ball, Nevin said the Blues should find an alternative strategy that best suits their own and Lukaku’s skill sets.
The Belgian has probably lost a bit of rhythm, following the extensive period out on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
Thomas Tuchel continues to reintegrate the striker into the team, conscious of the player’s fragile fitness.
He’s been brought on as a substitute in each of the past three Premier League games.
His last appearance from the bench was the longest – 45 minutes away to West Ham United – yet Tuchel admitted even this felt like an overuse of the centre-forward.
Play around Rom, rather than through him
Sooner or later though, the Chelsea manager will have no choice but to throw Lukaku right in at the deep end.
Tonight’s Champions League game against Zenit St Petersburg might just be the right time to do so.
Although, Nevin advised Tuchel’s men to come up with other means of bringing the number nine back into the fold as appose to the traditional methods.
“If you are playing in a game and you’re getting a ball wide and you’re putting crosses in, Lukaku all day long,” said the former Blues winger.
“You want him just about above anyone. He is phenomenal at that. He always goes to the right places and his movements great, he’s very strong and a natural finisher.
“But if you are playing a different way and the temptation has been when Lukaku has played a few times is to play directly into him. It’s not working very well.
“So, what they need to do is get out of that habit of when Lukaku is playing, don’t play through him and that temptation of hitting him all the time.
“That’s not what Chelsea are particularly good at. Chelsea are good at developing clever little spaces between the eight and ten behind the striker and then feeding them through.”
Trying something new in Blue
From a Chelsea perspective, the lure of playing directly into Lukaku’s feet is understandable.
After all, the 28-year-old can hold off pretty much any defender in world football with ease.
However, some opponents are getting wise to this tactic and are either crowding the attacker or dropping off.
Hence why Nevin recommended his beloved Blues change their approach with Lukaku.
They shouldn’t completely overlook his strengths, but tinker their style to get him involved more towards the opponent’s penalty area.
With the technical quality of Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and the delivery of Reece James, Marcos Alonso and Mason Mount at Tuchel’s disposal, there’s no reason why they can’t divert from the original plan.