With four Premier League goals to his name, Romelu Lukaku is Manchester United’s top goal scorer in league play. He has featured in all six of Manchester United’s Premier League games this season, notching 473 minutes of play under his belt. During the World Cup, the Belgian also scored four goals, playing in six games and recording 476 minutes of time played. The statistics suggest that Lukaku’s goalscoring record has been consistent, regardless of which shirt he pulls on. The least fans could have hoped is that the striker brought his World Cup form back to the Premier League.
It has to be said, Lukaku must offer more for Manchester United if the Red Devils have any shot of winning a league title. With only one assist since the beginning of the World Cup, Lukaku’s statistical significance to club and country comes in the form of goals. Eight goals in 12 matches is not an awful tally. We have seen Lukaku’s off the ball significance as well, highlighted by his presence in Belgium’s winner against Japan.
— Manchester United (@MUFCScoop) July 2, 2018
Paul Pogba has recently demanded that Manchester United commit more when attacking, resulting in another fall out between him and the manager, apparently. But what can Lukaku do to start contributing more on the score sheet for Jose Mourinho?
When it comes to touches on the ball, Romelu Lukaku has plenty. His touches vary from inside the oppositions penalty area, to his own penalty spot. The latter is likely from when the 6’3″ striker came back to defend a corner. With that being said, Lukaku isn’t afraid to venture back and receive the ball in the midfield.
Touches on the ball for Belgium
Out of 125 touches in 476 minutes for Belgium, 95 came from outside the opposition’s penalty box. As the sole striker for Belgium, you would expect a majority of goals to come from Lukaku. He was Belgium’s top scorer during the tournament, with four, but most of Belgium’s goals came from the wing. Six of their goals came from wingers, while only five came from the central forward position. With only one assist in the tournament, Lukaku’s positions in the field contribute to Belgium’s abilities to break lines in and behind the opposition’s defenders.
The rest of Lukaku’s touches (30) came inside the opposition’s penalty box, with only two of those touches inside the six-yard box.
Touches on the ball for Manchester United
Romelu Lukaku’s touches for Manchester United suggest a similar pattern when playing for the Red Devils. In 473 Premier League minutes, Lukaku has accumulated a whopping 175 touches. Similarly to his World Cup statistics, a majority of those touches (140) came outside the opposition’s penalty box. Unlike Lukaku’s Belgian teammates who bagged six goals from the wing, none of Manchester United’s goal have come from wider attacking players. It has been well noted that Manchester United are in desperate need of a new right winger, while Alexis Sanchez has struggled to assimilate himself on the left.
Romelu Lukaku has touched the ball in the oppositions penalty area 35 times in the Premier League. That is only five more times than he did for Belgium while having 50 more touches overall. Of those touches in the box, only two of them were inside the six-yard box.
Shots and goals for Belgium
During the World Cup, Lukaku accumulated 13 shots. Four of those shots turned into goals. But where did these shots come from? Only one of his shots came from outside the opposition’s 18-yard box, and unsurprisingly it didn’t result in a goal. All four of Lukaku’s shots came from inside the penalty area. He didn’t convert his only shot inside the six-yard box.
His first goal against Panama was a header scored just outside the six-yard box. His second goal, in the same game, was a chip over the goalkeeper on a breakaway. Lukaku’s next two goals game against Tunisia. The first was a lovely finish into the bottom right corner of the net from a few yards left of the penalty spot. His final goal of the tournament was yet another chip over the goalkeeper, again, just outside the six-yard box.
Even though we didn’t look at his shots during the international break, he scored three goals. His goal against Scotland was fired in from just outside the six. Against Iceland he scored two, one inside the six-yard box, and one just outside.
Shots and goals for Manchester United
Back in United colours, Lukaku has taken 16 shots in his start to this year’s Premier League campaign. With three more shots, Lukaku still has the same goal tally. Similarly to the World Cup, the statistics suggest Lukaku isn’t fond of shooting outside the box. All 16 of his shots were inside the 18-yard box, two of those inside the six-yard area. The two shots inside the six-yard box were converted into goals, and the two others were scored right outside it.
His first goal was a header inside the six-yard box against Brighton. Against Burnley, Lukaku scored two goals just outside the six, a header and a snatch snap rebound outside the six after a Jesse Lingard shot bobbled around in the box. His last goal was a hip thrust in the six-yard box off a cross.
While only two of his eight Premier League and World Cup goals were scored in the six-yard box, it is clear Romelu Lukaku likes to operate as close to the six-yard box as possible. Since the beginning of the World Cup, Lukaku’s penalty during the shootout last night was the second furthest goal he has scored. Interestingly, three of his four Belgium goals came from direct play, while three of his Manchester United goals came from wide area deliveries.
A lot has been said of Romelu Lukaku’s ability to finish chances. I myself have criticised him multiple times. But the statistics don’t lie. If you deliver him the ball near the net, he scores. And so he should.
Maybe instead of asking him to score more goals, we should be asking Alexis Sanchez to be delivering quality balls onto Lukaku’s forehead? Just a thought.