£140MILLION for nine goals! That’s all flops Romelu Lukaku and Alexandre Lacazette have managed COMBINED so far this season… as Chelsea and Arsenal prepare to go head to head, both managers are massaging egos to galvanise their ailing forwards
- Romelu Lukaku and Alexandre Lacazette have both struggled badly this season
- Chelsea and Arsenal will meet on Wednesday in need of sparks from the strikers
- Lukaku started well following his £97.5m move but has faded since turn of year
- Lacazette fuelled the notion of a return to Lyon this summer in a recent interview
Having cost a total fee north of £140million, you might expect Alex Lacazette and Romelu Lukaku to muster double figures between them for Premier League goals.
Yet, with the campaign in its final stretch, one of them has scored four times, two of those from the penalty spot, and the other has five, although none since the turn of the year. A feeble return for two players deployed up front in attacking teams at the right end of the table.
Lukaku, widely hailed as the missing piece in Chelsea’s jigsaw, started in some style before spluttering to a halt after injury, Covid and a disagreement with Thomas Tuchel after he pined for a return to Inter Milan in an interview in the Italian media.
Lacazette was entrusted by Mikel Arteta to take the captain’s armband, lead the line and guide his young team when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was ostracised on disciplinary grounds and sold in January. Neither has been able to seize the opportunity and both are guilty of a catalogue of missed chances.
Romelu Lukaku (left) and Alexandre Lacazette (right) are struggling badly in front of goal
As Chelsea and Arsenal prepare to meet at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, the two managers were massaging egos and cajoling their misfiring strikers in the hope they might still contribute something in this vital stage of the season.
‘You can qualify for the Champions League in different ways,’ said Arteta. ‘You can win every game 1-0 and qualify or you can score 12 goals and not qualify.
‘Our strikers need to score goals. Our attacking players need to create. We need clean sheets. It’s a combination of everything.
‘It’s not just a single player that needs to do a job to get the result we want.’
Arsenal appear to be cracking under the pressure of the race for fourth. They have lost their last three and four of their last five, surrendering the advantage they held and slipping to sixth, with rivals Manchester United visiting the Emirates on Saturday.
Mikel Arteta is attempting to cajole the Frenchman to get production at such a crucial time
It is a vital period for Arteta, who has his two strikers Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah out of contract in June and both talking publicly about futures elsewhere.
Lacazette, back in contention after Covid, fuelled the notion of a summer return to Lyon in an interview with French broadcaster Canal Plus this week, the 30-year-old saying he misses playing in the Champions League.
Maybe he has read the signals and realises his time is up in north London, even though Arteta maintains they will talk contracts at the end of the season.
His last goal from open play came in December and for all his good hold-up play and leadership qualities, he has acquired the nickname Lack-a-goals.
Lukaku’s future at Chelsea is by no means clear either. But eight months on from his club record £97.5million transfer, Tuchel insists he will not give up on the Belgian forward.
‘For us it is clear, we can play with Romelu and be very strong with Romelu and we proved it,’ said the Chelsea boss. ‘We will prove it if he is involved and keeps involved mentally. He can grow from it and come back stronger.
Tuchel is unwilling to bow to pressure on Lukaku and is confident he can regain top form
‘It is for sure disappointing for him and not what we expected, but it is not finished.
‘We will push him as far as we can and as long as the player stays involved in the mentality that is needed to bring a team forward he can still be crucial.’
Lukaku is not the same force as when Chelsea last faced Arsenal. Since scoring against Brighton in December, his goals have been against Chesterfield, Al-Hilal, Luton, Palmeiras and Middlesbrough.
‘He is trying everything,’ said Tuchel. ‘He had a very, very promising start. There was turbulence around from there.
‘He will have our support to reach this level again. It’s in him. It’s in us. He is still at the right place but there are things to improve from all of us. We will not give up.’
Chelsea and Arsenal will meet again on tours to the United States. They will play for the Florida Cup in Orlando on July 23. Chelsea will only travel if the club is sold and they are not subject to sanctions.
Lukaku has found goals hard to come by (pictured: scoring against Palmeiras back in February)
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