Leicester City v Chelsea: Luk-ing to recapture scoring Tuch
Star striker Romelu Lukaku could return this weekend after missing Chelsea's last five games.
The Belgian has not been seen since limping off in the Champions League victory against Malmo last month.
Chelsea have largely fared well without their £97.5million summer signing but lacked a cutting edge in a 1-1 draw with Burnley before the international break.
And Lukaku’s potential return against Leicester on Saturday could be exactly what the Blues need — despite the fact he was not exactly firing on all cylinders before picking up an ankle injury.
With just four goals to his name in all competitions so far this term, we turn the spotlight on the 28-year-old hitman and his start to life back at Stamford Bridge.
When Lukaku arrived from Inter Milan, it was heralded as the signing that would transform Chelsea into title contenders.
Thomas Tuchel's side showed their ability by winning the Champions League last season but often lacked the killer instinct needed to mount a challenge over 38 games.
Timo Werner seemed more suited to a wide role and Lukaku — who had just scored 30 goals in Inter’s title-winning campaign — was seen as the final piece of the jigsaw.
Following his arrival, Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said: "He's an absolute guarantee [of goals] for Chelsea.
"I think he makes Chelsea serious title challengers so I do feel as though he is that piece of the jigsaw they needed."
And the way Lukaku started did little to curb that excitement.
The Belgian put in a dominant display on his debut against Arsenal, scoring the second goal in a 2-0 win.
Two games later, Chelsea were under pressure against Aston Villa but two goals from as many shots showcased the clinical edge so many had been expecting.
He then netted his first Champions League goal for the Blues as they won 1-0 victory against Zenit St Petersburg, making it four goals in his first four games.
Drought at the Bridge
But since that strike in mid-September, the goals have dried up.
Lukaku failed to find the net in six straight starts before his injury.
Despite his dip in form, Chelsea’s performances as a whole were still strong with narrow defeats against Manchester City and Juventus the only blips.
After another goalless display in the 1-0 win over Brentford prior to his injury, Tuchel insisted he was not concerned by Lukaku’s drought.
He said: "No concerns [about Lukaku’s form]. The best thing is if he scores but he’s very unselfish and when he was in [goalscoring] situations it was close offside decisions.
"That’s the way it is sometimes. No need to worry."
When Lukaku and Werner were both injured in the 4-0 win over Malmo, there were questions as to where Chelsea’s goals were going to come from.
But Tuchel's squad answered them in emphatic style in the next game as they romped to a 7-0 victory against Norwich, before following it up with a 3-0 triumph over Newcastle.
Those wins saw unlikely scorers galore with defenders Ben Chilwell and Reece James hitting rich veins of form in front of goal.
In fact, Chelsea’s 16 different scorers in all competitions highlights their threat from all over the pitch — a cornerstone of what most successful title-winning sides have.
Despite that, the draw with Burnley last time out seemed to still highlight the need for a No9 in the trickier games.
Leading 1-0 for much of the match at Stamford Bridge, the Blues missed a hatful of chances to seal the points before Matej Vydra equalised.
Chelsea had 25 shots that day but only four were on target, while they vastly underperformed their expected goals rating of 3.01.
Those stats suggest it could have been a different outcome had Lukaku been leading the line.
Photos this week of Lukaku back in training will have been a welcome sight for Chelsea supporters.
Indicating the Belgian would be back after the international break, Tuchel said: "I am not a friend of deadlines and not putting pressure.
"Both of them [Lukaku and Werner] have a new target and that target is after the break. This is what they aim for, what we aim for."
Still three points clear at the top of the Premier League, the prolific marksman’s return should come before Chelsea’s wastefulness does any significant damage to their title hopes.
That said, he will need to put his goalscoring troubles and his injury woes behind him when he returns.
Scoring against Leicester, a side he has five goals against in the past, would be the perfect way to dash any notions of a slump — for him and his club.
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