Chelsea’s Attacking Brilliance Without A Striker Could Delay Lukaku Return

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When Chelsea thrashed Juventus 4-0 on Tuesday, Thomas Tuchel was in his element. Tuchel grasped the opportunity to think outside the box after losing Kai Havertz to a hamstring injury, his tactical mind churning as he considered his attacking alternatives and determined that the best way to damage Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci was to give them no one to mark.

It had been a night for the underdogs. Christian Pulisic played in an unaccustomed central role, compensating for his lack of effect in possession with contributions in other areas, his energy off the ball a feature of Chelsea’s heavy press. The skinny Hakim Ziyech showed excellent playmaking ability, while Callum Hudson-Odoi showed maturity and technique on the left flank, making it 3-0 in the 58th minute when he finished off a fluid move.

This appeared to be Tuchel ball in all its glory, with the tempo relentless, the movement befuddling, and threats coming from all directions as the blue wave engulfed Juventus. Strikers? Who requires them? Chelsea were OK without one against Juventus, just as they were when they thrashed Leicester last Saturday, and Tuchel will not have to change gears against Manchester United on Sunday, despite the fact that Romelu Lukaku is available again and no doubt raring to play against his old team.

Tuchel faces an interesting challenge in resolving the Lukaku situation. The striker’s return from the ankle injury he suffered against Malmö on October 20 is encouraging, but he will not be a hero. Lukaku, who is 28 years old, was an unused replacement against Juventus, and given that Chelsea has scored 23 goals in seven and a half games since his injury, Tuchel is under no obligation to play him against United tomorrow.

source : Guardian sport

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