Lineker and Shearer defend Lukaku after seven-touch disasterclass against Crystal Palace
'How can you pay that much money and not play to his strengths?'
Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer have defended Romelu Lukaku's performance against Crystal Palace and insisted his struggles were down to Chelsea's tactical approach to the match.
The Belgian striker touched the ball just seven times in 90 minutes - one of them being the kick-off. As Thomas Tuchel's men secured a nervy 1-0 win at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
His seven combined touches were the fewest in a single Premier League match for a player who has played the full 90 minutes since the 2003/04 season, which is when this data first became available.
Romelu Lukaku broke the record for the fewest touches in a single Premier League game (7) for a player who has played the full 90 minutes since this data became available in 2003/04 😳
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 20, 2022
Match of the day on Lukaku.
Speaking on Match of the Day, Lineker and Shearer both sympathised with Lukaku, arguing that the Blues were not playing to his strengths.
"It's clear that they [Chelsea] aren't working on things on the training ground as they are not doing it during the game for him [Lukaku] or for the team," said Shearer.
Lineker added: "When I played, if I wasn't getting much of the ball, if I wasn't getting service, I would be hammering people."
"How can you pay that much money and not play to his strengths?"
What's going on with Romelu Lukaku and Chelsea?#MOTD on @BBCOne and @BBCiPlayer - https://t.co/IQvwYDcJBg #BBCFootball #Chelsea pic.twitter.com/Yd49UIkFAJ
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) February 19, 2022
According to Opta stats, Lukaku completed just four of his six attempted passes at the weekend. His 66.7 percent completion rate was the worst of any player who started the game for Chelsea.
The former Inter Milan man played just three forward passes - just one more than goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech, who lined up for Chelsea alongside Lukaku in attack, had 32 and 34 touches respectively. Completing 23 and 28 passes.
Thomas Tuchel's take.
Speaking after the game, Tuchel dismissed suggestions that his tactical approach was to blame for Lukaku's disappointing afternoon.
"No, no, it's not about the system," the Chelsea boss insisted.
"Well, it is what it is. But for him, there is no change of system because it's the same attacking structure."
The Blues re-signed Lukaku for a club-record £97.5million fee in the summer. The striker bagged 64 goals in 95 games in all competitions in two seasons for Inter.
Lukaku's 24 goals in Serie A last season proved vital in Nerazzurri winning the Scudetto.
The Belgian made a promising start to the Premier League season, scoring three goals in his first three league outings. However, an ankle injury kept him out throughout November and he caused controversy when he admitted that he would have stayed at Inter in the summer if they had offered him a new contract.