Romelu Lukaku will miss “some matches” after suffering an ankle injury against Malmo on Wednesday night – but manager Thomas Tuchel should have rested his star striker
Chelsea eased to a 4-0 win against Champions League rivals Malmo at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night – but the result came at a cost.
Romelu Lukaku suffered a twisted ankle and is expected to be out for the foreseeable future, leaving manager Thomas Tuchel without his best striker.
Speaking after the match, Tuchel confirmed Lukaku and fellow striker Timo Werner had suffered injuries against Malmo.
The Blues boss said: “We need more examinations to be more precise but they will be out for some matches.”
He’s an obvious improvement on Chelsea’s strikers from last season – Werner, Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham – and should only be deployed when necessary.
Tuchel didn’t need Lukaku against Malmo. The Swedish minnows had lost their previous two European games against Juventus and Zenit Saint Petersburg, conceding seven goals and scoring none.
Chelsea also didn’t miss the striker after he was forced off – doubling their 2-0 advantage – and there were concerns about his fitness after a busy international break.
Lukaku started and finished Belgium’s gruelling Nations League defeat to France, losing a physically and emotionally draining encounter in the dying seconds of the game.
Despite this, Tuchel insists he doesn’t regret starting him. He told the press: “It was necessary that Romelu was on the pitch, he started very strong.
“I spoke with him about the situation, that I think he carries a bit of a mental fatigue around with him, and that I think it’s also normal.
“But he’s our number nine, he’s our reference up front and the best thing against mental fatigue is a goal and we knew that we could be the dominant team.”
Tuchel may have been concerned about Lukaku’s recent goalscoring record, finding the back of the net just four times since his move from Inter Milan in August.
The Chelsea boss added: “I don’t regret it because it’s not a muscle injury and not from physical fatigue, he is more a little bit overplayed.
“That is just my opinion, maybe I’m not even right, and it was the moment to give him confidence and let him play… it’s just bad luck.”
The gamble, however, didn’t pay-off. And now Tuchel finds himself without Lukaku and Werner for this weekend’s Premier League game against Norwich.
Thankfully for the German coach, Norwich have been in dreadful form this season – picking up just two points from their eight league games.
Was Thomas Tuchel right to play Romelu Lukaku against Malmo? Let us know in the comments below
In the meantime, though, the Chelsea boss must decide who’s going to fill in for his star striker. It’s not a great problem to have – and could define their season.