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MARTIN KEOWN: There’s nothing to complain about for Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku against Manchester City

MARTIN KEOWN: Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku has nothing to complain about the confrontation he has to win against Manchester City – he should like the game down to the last detail

  • Pundit Martin Keown gives his opinion on Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku
  • Manchester City take on the Blues at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon
  • Chelsea are 10 points behind Pep Guardiola’s side in the Premier League table











Manchester City have won an incredible 11-game streak. If they make it a stunning 12 today, they will most likely knock one of their rivals out of the title race.

Chelsea would be too far adrift to catch up if they lose. Even a draw wouldn’t do much good. This is a must-win for Thomas Tuchel.

By the end of last season, he defeated Pep Guardiola three times – in the FA Cup semi-finals, the Premier League and in the Champions League final. Tuchel’s men have to treat today as if it were another final.

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City will face Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea on Saturday

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will face Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea on Saturday

Tuchel defeated Guardiola 1-0 in the 2019 Champions League final

Tuchel defeated Guardiola 1-0 in the 2019 Champions League final

City won 15 trots en route to the title last season, but Tuchel had the number of his counterpart in that trilogy. I expect a high-quality, tactically compelling match at the Etihad Stadium today between two great sides.

Chelsea is a special unit; a team of highly competitive individuals led by a coach whose attention to detail is second to none. Tuchel knows how to be the best in tactical combat.

In that Champions League final, Kai Havertz scored the winner from a short break. If Chelsea are going to score today, it will probably come from that kind of move, and that’s ready for Romelu Lukaku.

In that interview that got him into trouble with Tuchel, Lukaku said the system at Chelsea didn’t quite suit him. Antonio Conte led him at Inter Milan last season and used him as part of a front two.

Lukaku liked to drift to the right side of the field where he could reach his favorite left foot. He also enjoyed dropping deep so he could contribute to the counterattacks as Inter was out of possession. Lukaku isn’t just a target or a one-two sign.

He’s a giant in the air, but he’s also quick on the ground and great at carrying the ball. That’s what he did so effectively for Inter. Chelsea is different. Tuchel uses Lukaku at the head of his 3-4-2-1 formation. He wants his teams to dominate possession and tells his players to press high.

Against City, however, there will be periods when Chelsea will be without the ball, as that is what Guardiola’s team does best. Sometimes the visitors have to get and defend numbers around their own box.

Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku is tasked with helping his side beat Manchester City on Saturday

Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku is tasked with helping his side beat Manchester City on Saturday

Lukaku had earlier in an interview that the system at Chelsea did not suit him

Lukaku had earlier in an interview that the system at Chelsea did not suit him

If Chelsea are not willing to do that, they could be undone, as they did with Liverpool, who scored twice in the first 26 minutes at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago. Leaning back isn’t necessarily bad for Chelsea, though. That could even suit Lukaku, who will get his chance to score the runs from the deep end he made for Inter.

This is a striker who could win a race against one of City’s centre-backs, so she and Rodri in midfield will need to be aware of his threat. At certain clubs, such as Manchester United, Lukaku looked like a pussy. But if he is well motivated, he turns into a tiger.

Lukaku, 28, endured a rough patch at Manchester United before moving to Inter Milan

Lukaku, 28, endured a rough patch at Manchester United before moving to Inter Milan

The striker is ready to make his first start after his previous shot for the strong interview

The striker is ready to make his first start after his previous shot for the strong interview

There has been enough attention for Lukaku lately that I expect that will make him want to take up the challenge. There will be important fights all over the field today, including in the midfield.

N’Golo Kante is rightly praised for his energy, but I don’t think Mateo Kovacic will get credit for his work ethic long enough. Chelsea’s midfielders cover huge distances and they will at times be outnumbered in the midfield as City like to flood that area with sky-blue shirts.

As a masterful tactician, Guardiola won’t like how often Tuchel beats him. He’s had to attend too many post-match press conferences to explain why City lost to Chelsea to their liking.

If Guardiola can come out victorious today, he will virtually lose a title rival.

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