Are Chelsea a better team with or without Lukaku? The stats show they have scored and won more often since his ankle injury… but surely Tuchel will unleash him against Manchester United today

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  • Romelu Lukaku has scored four goals in 11 appearances since his return to Chelsea
  • He has missed the last eight matches against Malmö due to injury.
  • But he could be drafted for a start against former club Manchester United on Sunday
  • The Blues haven’t struggled to score goals without him netting on 22 occasions
  • sportsmail It remains to be seen whether Chelsea have played better with or without Lukaku

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Romelu Lukaku’s £98m return to Chelsea in the summer began as a game-changer in terms of the Premier League title race, with several switches from Manchester City to back Thomas Tuchel’s men.

Pep Guardiola’s men failed to secure the £150m signing of Harry Kane from Tottenham, while the team that defeated him in May’s Champions League final was able to recruit the top goalscorer of Serie A champions Inter Milan.

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Those who had changed their mind were destined to be proved right in their decision when Lukaku opened his account on his second debut at Arsenal, before scoring a double at home to Aston Villa and three days later. Another header against Zeenat.

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Romelu Lukaku has scored four goals in 11 appearances since returning to Chelsea in the summer

He missed seven games due to injury before being named on the bench on Tuesday

He missed seven games due to injury before being named on the bench on Tuesday

The 28-year-old, however, went four Premier League games and one-quarter Champions League matches without scoring or assists, and hopes of ending that rut were soon dashed after sustaining an ankle injury against Malmö. .

Tuchel said Lukaku will take ‘a while to recover’ after his subsequent 4-0 win against the Swedish side, which may have put some fans on edge, with important Premier League fixtures coming up in November.

However, in the absence of the Belgian striker, Chelsea did not struggle in front of goal, scoring 22 goals in eight matches in all competitions (including the third and fourth against Malmö after being injured).

The former Inter Milan striker was an unused substitute in a 4-0 loss to Juventus on Tuesday night as the Champions League holders qualified for the knockout stages. But he is likely to be in contention to face his own former club Manchester United when they head to the Premier League kick-off on Sunday afternoon.

So have Chelsea fared better this season with or without record signing? sportsmail Crunch the numbers to find out…

The Blues have already played 20 games this season, but have been without Lukaku for almost half of them.

The European champions have been victorious in seven of the 11 matches the Belgian star has participated in, while having won six of the nine matches without him.

The Blues have drawn on more occasions in matches in which Lukaku has played at least some part, but they have yet to lose when Belgium have not come in than twice.

It would be completely irrational to blame Lukaku’s doorstep for the defeats of Manchester City and Juventus in this tenure, especially since neither City nor a team of Liverpool’s caliber were faced during his absence.

But it’s a sign that the Blues have still managed to find balance in their game without being their focal point. However, what can be read a little more closely is Chelsea’s form in front of the goal with Lukaku in and out.

Reece James has scored four of his five goals in 2021-22 without Lukaku on the pitch, while Mason Mount has also stepped up with a hat-trick against Norwich and the likes of Kai Havertz and Timo Werner have also ticked off.

The Blues have 12 different goalscorers in Lukaku’s absence as well as one goal, showing consistent performance in front of goal.

In two fewer games, Chelsea have scored five more goals without the Belgian (24) when they led the line for Tuchel’s men (19).

So unsurprisingly, his average goals per game is 2.7 without the ex-Everton and West Brom forward, compared to 1.7 with him in the team.

Mason Mount's hat-trick against Norwich was one of 22 goals scored in Lukaku's absence

Mason Mount’s hat-trick against Norwich was one of 22 goals scored in Lukaku’s absence

Chelsea’s average shots per game rises from 14.1 as Lukaku as a player used in this period on match day compared to 20.2 without him, and with 58.9 percent possession of the ball. 65.1 has become more dominant.

However, the Blues have a greater tendency to box the ball out of open play when their No. 1 target is the man, sending an average of 14 balls into the field compared to 12.3 for him and the others. He does not play.

The above data regarding goals and crosses is not sufficient evidence to suggest that his style is more direct when playing lukaku, nor that one style is more appropriate than the other.

But Chelsea take a completely different approach, with and without the Belgium international, and both have already achieved a lot of success this season, as show respective win percentages of 63.6 percent and 66.7.

Somewhat oddly, the Blues’ defensive record is substantially better than without Lukaku, although the level of opposition again over the past month should be taken into account.

Reece James (left) and Christian Pulisic (right) are 12 different scorers without Lukaku

Reece James (left) and Christian Pulisic (right) are 12 different scorers without Lukaku

The Champions League holders already boast Europe’s best defensive record since Tuchel took over, and his pathetic methods have cost him just three goals without Lukaku. With that the number only increases to five.

He also averaged more shots on goal per game with Lukaku, while the defense averages 10.6 crosses per game with him when he is not on the pitch.

The number of fouls won has increased significantly, from under nine to above 13 per game, although the Blues admit more fouls without Lukaku when they are playing.

Yet as mentioned earlier, it is the attacking numbers that make for Lukaku far more interesting to watch than the defensive ones, as Tuchel considers his options ahead of Sunday’s match against United.

Lukaku could play for the first time in nine matches against former club Manchester United

Lukaku could play for the first time in nine matches against former club Manchester United

The German insists he was in no rush to bring Lukaku back against Juventus, his side needing just one point to qualify for the last 16, but the temptation to do so is at United this weekend. Might be a bit high given the recent failures of

The former Borussia Dortmund and PSG boss has certainly turned things around in terms of attack formation without Lukaku, with Havertz often leading the lines.

The Germany international has often been supported by the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount, Ross Barkley and Callum Hudson-Odoi directly behind him, or in the latter case against Burnley, next to him.

However, Tuchel certainly would not resist the temptation to reinstate Lukaku into the starting XI and free him to be torn between the less confident Viktor Lindelof and – most likely, through suspension in the absence of Harry Maguire – Eric Bailey when Michael Carrick brings his men to West London.

Tuchel may be tempted to bring Lukaku back and try the likes of Victor Lindelof.

Tuchel may be tempted to bring Lukaku back and try the likes of Victor Lindelof.

He’s certainly already on the verge of destroying the so-called ‘Big Six’ defense since his return, tearing A delicate Arsenal backline with their speed, power and speed in their London Derby win at Emirates Stadium in August.

Sunday’s fixture won’t be one more condiment for Lukaku – although, as he faces the club, he has scored 42 goals in 96 games, but where honestly he never felt completely comfortable and appreciated.

He scored just 12 Premier League goals in his final season at Old Trafford in 2018-19, but became a goalscorer under Antonio Conte at Inter Milan with 64 goals in 95 appearances.

Lukaku has scored three goals against United, all of whom came for West Brom in May 2013.

Lukaku has scored three goals against United, all of whom came for West Brom in May 2013.

Lukaku scored three goals against United before his two years in Italy, all of which came in the infamous 5–5 draw of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1,500th and United’s final game in charge in May 2013 as a West Brom substitute.

As a result, United do feature among the top 30 clubs against whom Lukaku has scored the most goals, but he will look to add to that tally on Sunday to correct some of the mistakes of his time at Old Trafford.

Whether he is allowed to do so will depend on whether Tuchel dictates the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mantra with respect to Chelsea’s current form, or whether he wants to exploit Belgium. Sees as the perfect person to do. United’s weaknesses.

But whether he gets a chance to add to that tally against United will depend on Thomas Tuchel

But whether he gets a chance to add to that tally against United will depend on Thomas Tuchel

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