Is Lukaku just a flat-track bully?

Yahoo Sport UK
Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku cringing when he sees you leave him out of your fantasy team.
Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku cringing when he sees you leave him out of your fantasy team.

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Romelu Lukaku has scored seven goals in seven so far, only failing to score against Leicester, making him both the top scorer and the most consistent forward in the league.

But many fantasy managers are not convinced he is a viable option, with visits to Liverpool and Chelsea either side of a trip to Huddersfield and a game against Spurs.

Despite United only trailing Manchester City’s goal difference by one, Lukaku’s reputation as a flat-track bully and Mourinho’s history of parking the bus against the big sides is scaring fantasy managers.

Lukaku’s record vs the top six and vs the rest of the league
Lukaku’s record vs the top six and vs the rest of the league
Lukaku is just a flat-track bully

Last season, Lukaku scored 21 of his 25 goals against the bottom 14 teams. This left him with a record of four goals in 11 games against the top six, as he missed Everton’s game at White Hart Lane. He scored home and away against Manchester City, and away at Arsenal and Spurs.

In 2015/16, Lukaku scored 17 of his 25 goals against the bottom 14 teams, scoring just once in 12 games against the top six. His ability to steamroll weaker sides is clear to see: including his debut season at United, Lukaku has scored 46 goals in 58 games against non top-six sides since the start of the 2015/16 season.

His record against the top-six remains at five goals in 23 games, as he is yet to face a top-six side this season. Paul Pogba remains sidelined but overall, his supporting cast has only got better this season since his £75m move to Manchester United.

Louis Saha picks Lukaku as the best signing of the season so far.

READ MORE: Will Batshuayi or Hazard play upfront for Chelsea now Morata is injured?

Mourinho parks the bus against the top teams

Man United’s current unbeaten record is either the cause for all their opponents being in the bottom half, or their opponent’s position is the reason why United are unbeaten.

The real test for Jose Mourinho and Lukaku comes in the next four games. Liverpool play host to United first on October 14, before Chelsea welcome them to London on November 5. United travel to Huddersfield on October 21, before Spurs set foot at Old Trafford on October 28 in the interim.

Mourinho has failed to score away vs the top six in 7 of his last 9 games
Mourinho has failed to score away vs the top six in 7 of his last 9 games

Jose Mourinho’s has not won a single away game against a top-six rival in his past two season in the Premier League. In his final 12 months for Chelsea before he got the boot, he lost 5-3 at Spurs, drew 0-0 at Arsenal, lost 3-0 at Manchester City and drew 0-0 at Spurs.

At United last season, he drew 0-0 at Liverpool, lost 4-0 at Chelsea, drew 0-0 at Manchester City, lost 2-0 at Arsenal and lost 2-1 at Spurs.

Following his 5-3 loss at Spurs on New Years Day, Mourinho has scored just one goal in the next eight games away from home against the top six. Half of the games have even ended in a 0-0 stalemate.

Jose Mourinho has a history of parking the bus against rivals and Man United have Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs coming up.

Should Lukaku be in your fantasy team over the next four weeks?

Expectations from fans against top-six rivals are lower, especially when playing away from home. Both Lukaku’s record against top-six sides, coupled with Mourinho’s poor record have left managers with reasons to think twice before trusting Lukaku in their fantasy teams.

Seven blanks in nine games away from home for Mourinho is the most damming statistic for the Portuguese. However, United are scoring freely both at home and away this year, scoring four goals in six games in all competitions already.

Liverpool may be a top-six side, but they have conceded the third most goals in the league. Spurs conceded twice to Chelsea at home, but have kept clean sheets in all but one away game this season. Chelsea meanwhile have failed to score against Arsenal and City in consecutive games at home. But they have beaten Spurs and Atletico Madrid 2-1 away from Stamford Bridge.

Alone, their records are poor but together, Lukaku and Mourinho could leave doubters frustrated over the next month of football if they can break their barren spells.

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