Has Romelu Lukaku been over-criticized?
In the big games, you need your big players to shine. So when Paul Pogba was suspended for three games after his tackle on Hector Bellerin of Arsenal, Manchester United looked up to Romelu Lukaku as they took on Manchester City in the top of the table clash.
Lukaku was great against Arsenal, as his hold up play was instrumental in United's 2 goals at the Emirates.
But, it turned out to be a horrible derby for both the hosts and Romelu Lukaku. Romelu Lukaku had an absolute nightmare at the 'Theatre of Dreams'. He was at fault for both the goals scored by the visitors in the derby.
Ostensibly, Lukaku found himself on the receiving end of truckloads of criticism, with his own fans also beginning to turn against the Belgian.
Well, he was having a really really bad day at the office. Remember Pogba against Liverpool at Old Trafford last season? It was a disastrous day, one of those days when nothing goes right.
Against City, Lukaku tried to clear the ball, the ball hit his own teammate and came back perfectly for Otamendi to slot in. Now, it was poor on his part, but he was also incredibly unlucky. Regarding his miss, he trusted his instincts and went for power and Ederson needed to be at the top of his game to stop it, and he was.
Well, Ederson shouldn't have got the chance to stop it, but remember, Lukaku was having a really bad day, and that happens to everyone!
It is rather evident that Lukaku's overall game has only improved ever since he moved to Manchester United
His hold up play seems to be improving with every game. Remember his performance against Arsenal earlier this season? He is certainly improving his passing, and he is looking to create chances for the team.
Lukaku has scored 15 goals while he has assisted his teammates 4 times in 26 games this season. This means that Lukaku has been directly involved in 19 goals in 26 games he has played for Manchester United this season.
He has been working on the other aspects of the game too. His hold up play, as discussed above, has improved ever since landing in Manchester.
Not a big match player?
He has been severely criticized for his performances in the big games but has he really been that bad in big games? Notably, Lukaku also grabbed a goal vs the current holders of the Champions League, Real Madrid.
Every game in the Premier League is a big game, but United have faced all 5 big English teams, namely, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, and Liverpool.
He got the match-winning assist against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford, and his hold up play was brilliant against Arsenal. He held up the ball while the likes of Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, and Paul Pogba made regular runs and did the damage.
He missed a big chance at Anfield which proved to be United's only chance of the match. In matches like these, you often get only 1 or 2 chances and you need to make most of it but he missed it.
At Stamford Bride, he didn't get any service and failed to find his way through the Chelsea defence. So, out of the 5 big games, he actually played well in 3 of them, while he was found wanting in the others.
Service to him from the United midfield has also been wanting to say the least, especially in the big games. It is no coincidence that when his friend Paul Pogba is on the pitch the Belgian looks a better player.
The Belgian has shown his mental toughness as he has done well in the last games in spite of the amount of criticism he has got on social media. His muted celebrations after the goals have proved that criticism is playing on his mind but the fact that he has not let it affect his game shows his maturity.
Due to his inflated price tag of £75 million, people tend to forget that he is still 24 and has age on his side. The fact that he is constantly improving his overall game and has shown maturity is enough to prove that it would be too early to count out the Belgian's chances of becoming a world-class striker in the future.