'Ridiculous': ESPN pundit claims Chelsea player's display against Palace was so 'weird'

Nedum Onuoha couldn’t quite get his head around Romelu Lukaku’s lack of involvement during Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace last weekend.

Speaking on ESPN, the former defender scratched his head searching for answers as to why Lukaku failed to make even the slightest bit of difference on Saturday.

In general, Thomas Tuchel’s team were pretty unconvincing at the home of their fellow capital city club.

Aside from Antonio Rudiger’s speculative effort, Chelsea failed to penetrate Palace until the final quarter of the contest.

Hakim Ziyech had one effort ruled out for offside, but did eventually break the deadlock in the 89th minute via a smart first-time volley.

Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images

Aside from the match-winner and one or two others, the reigning Champions League holders stuttered and struggled on the domestic stage.

A disease that Lukaku has been suffering from for some months.

So poor against Palace

Rather incredibly, the Belgian international only managed two touches throughout the whole of opening exchanges between the Blues and Patrick Vieira’s side.

This is quite astonishing for any footballer, let alone one that cost £97.5m (Sky Sports).

“I think Chelsea’s style of play doesn’t lead to Lukaku being the most important player, but still two-touches is ridiculous,” declared Onuoha.

“Especially when you think about, you could’ve made a tackle, you could’ve say, won a header. You could’ve been running behind; you could’ve been running short. It’s weird.

“I can’t get my head around it, because you need to have some level of impact in the game.

“If your soul task was to occupy the two centre-backs when your team had the ball, fair enough, but you’ll still have more than touch in open play through 45 minutes.

Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

“I think he’s going to look back at that 45 minutes and wondering: ‘What went wrong?’

“Because if you’re really not needed by your team in open player, then it’s a serious question you need to ask yourself about what is the point?”

That exact question has probably crossed Lukaku’s mind at several stages during the season.

Who is in the wrong for Lukaku’s issues?

Following a romantic return to Chelsea, the honeymoon period quickly diminished for the striker.

He went 11 matches without hitting the back of the net, admittedly separated by a lengthy injury absence, and has since only scored sporadically.

A debate as to whether it’s his or the team’s fault continues to linger over Stamford Bridge.

Alan Shearer made a case for the latter after the 1-1 draw at Brighton & Hove Albion earlier in the campaign.

“We highlighted before the game didn’t we about the lack of forward pass from the midfielders into Lukaku or whoever that may be,” Shearer said.

“So, what happens is when you don’t get a pass and you don’t get the next pass, you stop running. You just think ‘what’s the point? I’m actually not going to get the ball, so what is the point of actually making runs?”

Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

Tuchel shares a different opinion.

When asked about the reasons behind Lukaku’s poor display versus Palace, the German remained resolute in his response.

“It’s not about the system. It is what it is. But for him, (there) was not a change of system because it’s the same attacking structure,” declared the Blues boss.

Clearly, nobody truly knows the answer to Romelu’s troubles.

Should supporters be worried? Quite possibly.

Keep up to date with all the latest Chelsea news and opinion by following The Chelsea Chronicle’s Facebook and Twitter accounts

Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.