Liverpool injury blow and approach means Reds should be wary of Romelu Lukaku at Wembley

After scoring three goals across Chelsea’s last two matches, Lukaku has every chance of starting in Saturday’s FA Cup final and will be out to continue his recent upturn in form

Fabinho and Lukaku (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images) (Image: Liverpool FC via Getty Images)ByDavid Alexander Hughes

  • 18:00, 12 May 2022
  • Updated18:29, 12 May 2022
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Chelsea secured a morale boosting 3-0 victory away to Leeds United on Wednesday night, setting them up nicely for Saturday’s big FA Cup final against Liverpool.

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Although Thomas Tuchel would have welcomed Wednesday’s much-needed win at Elland Road, the result did provide him with a potential selection headache ahead of Saturday’s showpiece event.

Specifically, it’s whether he brings Kai Havertz back into the starting 11, or goes with Romelu Lukaku to lead his attack instead.

The Belgian has had a well-publicised disappointing Chelsea return so far, however, he has started and completed a full 90 minutes in each of their last two matches, scoring three times.

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And while he’d potentially be lining up against one of the best defences in the country, there’s actually a case to be made that the Reds represent an ideal opponent for him to thrive against.

Klopp’s men will be weaker defensively as governing midfielder Fabinho will miss out through the hamstring injury he picked up against Aston Villa on Tuesday night. But it’s also the tactical approach of Klopp’s men that can play into Lukaku’s hands.

Lukaku’s issues at Chelsea this season have in parts come as a result of how they play. Tuchel’s men dominate the ball in most matches and pin their opponents inside their own half. This inevitably means that space in the attacking third is at a premium.

Technically proficient attackers like Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech can thrive within the same, however Lukaku struggles as he doesn’t have the same sort of skill set.

For much of his career, the powerful forward has been at his best when he’s had more space to exploit. He can bully defenders in one against one duels and is deceivingly quick making him an ever-present threat when running in behind.

Lukaku was denied a goal by a marginal offside decision against Liverpool in the League Cup final
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Image:
REUTERS)

Liverpool represent one of the few opponents that Chelsea will come up against and not dominate, meaning the Blues will have to spend periods of the game sitting deeper and in a low block. This is ideal for Lukaku who can prime himself to come alive in periods of transition when Liverpool have committed men forward.

Klopp’s men have very few vulnerabilities, which is why they’re so successful against most opponents. However counter-attacks can sometimes cause them problems, predominantly due to how high their defensive line is.

It’s striking that despite their success throughout the campaign, no Premier League keeper has faced more one vs one chances than Alisson this season.

Alisson is one of the Premier League's best in one on one situations
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Image:
Action Images via Reuters)

The Brazilian is one of the league’s best in such situations, which is why Liverpool perhaps haven’t been punished more often, however, more clinical forwards can take advantage.

Lukaku certainly comes under that bracket, and should he start on Saturday, then there’s every chance that he will be provided with at least one opportunity to go through on Liverpool's goal, just like he was in the League Cup final when he had a goal chalked off for the narrowest of offside decisions.

Due to the tight nature of the most recent meetings between these two opponents, with the last three ending level after regular time, a similar opportunity and finish could be enough to secure the cup and end Chelsea’s season on a notable high.

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