Manchester United have been in fine form this season. They sit in second place in the Premier League and are comfortably at the top of their Champions League group. As well, the results in League Cup have been satisfying as Man United reached quarter finals. However, they got there with the help of Romelu Lukaku.
The Belgian striker started his season in searing form. He was one of the best and most constant players, scoring goals in almost every game he played in. Yet, that had to stop happening at some point. Now, it has been a stale situation for several matches. Manchester United fans are wondering should they actually be worried.
Romelu Lukaku And Numbers
First and foremost, we will be comparing Lukaku’s numbers in most important areas for strikers from his season at Manchester United so far and his time at Everton. To make it more even, we will compare only his Premier League matches, as he has not played in the Champions League with the Toffees.
Lukaku’s striking rate has not changed that much. Actually it insignificantly rose. The Belgian was last season scoring 0.66 non-penalty goals per 90 minutes (non-penalty, because penalties can skew the perception heavily from season to season and from player to player). This season that number stands at 0.70. However, the two things that have changed to some extent are related to the number of goals Lukaku has scored.
He has been making more shots per 90 minutes than at Everton. That number rose from 3.00 to 3.70 shots per 90 minutes. He is playing at a better, more attacking side and this was expected. Still, Lukaku has been hitting shots on target less often. Percentage of his shots going on target is 45.94 per cent, while last season it was 49.5. That might not seem that much, but over a whole season, it can make some difference in number of goals scored.
His Role Has Changed
This is also obvious and expected. Lukaku is not as important to Manchester United as he was to Everton. The Merseyside team was relying on him heavily, while at Old Trafford the Belgian is able to have less commitments during a match. And the numbers show that as well.
Lukaku was making 1.78 dribbles per 90 minutes last season, while at Manchester United he is doing that 0.60 times over a same interval. This means he is more of an old-school striker than he was at Everton. He does not have to bring the ball forwards like he did back then. He has others to do that for him now. Lukaku is also making less throughballs, but making more assists, which is also down to the better quality of players playing around him.
The Man United striker is shooting differently this term. He had 37 shots during 10 matches and only six of them came from outside of the box. That is 16.2 per cent of his total shots. Last season that number was at 27.2 per cent. Therefore, he is closer to the goal. Also, his shots are coming from a little bit more central positions than before, which improves his chances of scoring.
We could conclude some things from all of this. Lukaku has been underperforming and scoring less goals than it maybe was expected of him. His xG confirms the feeling Manchester United fans had. He has scored seven Premier League goals, while his xG stands at 8.08. However, this is not something to be expected over a whole season. Lukaku is just going through a patchy spell. He is getting into good positions, missing some of easy chances. Manchester United fans should not be worried…