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Talking Tactics

Form of Lukaku spells danger for Arsenal

Adrian Clarke 9 Mar 2019
Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United

Adrian Clarke explains how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has turned the Man Utd striker into his most lethal weapon

Adrian Clarke looks at a key tactical talking point in Matchweek 30.

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Romelu Lukaku’s improved finishing under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could spell trouble for weekend opponents Arsenal.

As well as the brace that helped Manchester United complete a remarkable UEFA Champions League victory against Paris-Saint Germain on Wednesday night, Lukaku has scored four Premier League goals in his last two outings, against Crystal Palace and Southampton, and six in total since the Norwegian took charge.

This form has also taken him into the top 20 of all-time Premier League goalscorers, level with Ian Wright on 113.

Three of his recent PL strikes were clinical shots with his right foot from mid-range, taking his tally for the campaign to five with his weaker foot.

Last season he scored 11 left-footed goals, three headers and just two with his right.

This is a sign perhaps that Lukaku is working hard on developing his adaptability in dangerous areas. 

Lukaku's upward curve
Season Club Conv. rate Shot accuracy
2018/19 MUN 32% 73.7%
2017/18 MUN 24% 63.2%
2016/17 EVE 29% 64.0%
2015/16 EVE 21% 55.8%
2014/15 EVE 13% 55.3%

Lukaku’s progress is clear to see from his shooting data.

He continues to miss decent opportunities, but remains the second-most accomplished finisher at Old Trafford.

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    Romelu Lukaku
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Romelu Lukaku Player Profile

Anthony Martial is the only forward with a superior record, a 39.1 per cent chance conversion rate.

Manager's impact

Solskjaer’s influence must not be discounted.

During his playing days the Norwegian was renowned as a cool finisher and his influence on the training ground appears to be rubbing off on the Belgium international.

In recent matches Lukaku has appeared more assured and ruthless when chances have fallen his way.

This clinical edge to his game has sharpened since the change of manager.  

Lukaku has shown versatility in recent appearances too.

He was a constant thorn in Arsenal’s side when playing on the right wing in United’s 3-1 FA Cup victory at Emirates Stadium.

Lukaku improvement under Solskjaer

Statistic Under Mourinho Under Solskjaer
Mins 1184 510
Goals 6 6
Shot conv. rate 21.4% 33.3%
Mins/goal 197.3 85

Since then he has played as a lone centre-forward in a 4-3-3 formation, or as a partner to Marcus Rashford in a 4-3-1-2 system.

Using his sharp movement, Lukaku has received nine goal chances in his last two outings.

Solskjaer's leading scorers in PL
Player Mins/goal Goals
Lukaku 85.0 6
Pogba 132.9 8
Rashford 144.2 6
Martial 240.5 2
Lingard 282.5 2

Whether stationed on the right in a duel with Nacho Monreal or Sead Kolasinac, or down the middle where he will face Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny, Lukaku has to be regarded as United’s chief goal threat on Sunday.

Also in this series

Part 2: Capoue and Doucoure key to Watford success
Part 3: Wan-Bissaka happy at being hard to beat
Part 4: Liverpool need forwards to find their form

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