Is Romelu Lukaku's injury-enforced absence a blessing in disguise for Manchester United?
Romelu Lukaku’s 18 game appearance streak came to an abrupt end in United’s 2-1 win over Bournemouth on Saturday.
In a pre-match press conference with BT, United manager Jose Mourinho explained the striker's surprise absence, claiming the Belgium target man had picked up an injury in Friday's training session.
"Lukaku yesterday in training after the press conference, he felt something that needed to be studied in the next few days. So Lukaku has not come and we decided to start with Alexis."
Concerns were raised over whether Lukaku would be taking part in the 12:30 game at the Vitality Stadium, after pictures showed him missing from the group of players boarding the squad's private plane on Friday afternoon.
Many people had assumed Mourinho had decided to drop his £75 million signing after a poor start to the season, with only 4 goals in 14 games in all competitions. And after a poor substitute performance in the Reds' 2-1 win over Everton last Sunday, it seemed Jose had lost patience with the Belgium international.
However, with the in-form pairing of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford seeming to have given the Manchester club a more attacking threat last weekend, many fans have been left wondering if Lukaku would have made the starting 11 this weekend anyway.
In the absence of Lukaku, academy graduate Rashford and former Monaco forward Martial have injected the Manchester team with the pace and X-factor they had been missing in previous weeks; with fans claiming the young attackers are finally making the Red Devils entertaining to watch again.
Following United’s last-minute victory over Bournemouth, the attacking duo now have 6 goals in 4 Premier League games, overtaking Lukaku’s season tally in less than half the amount of time.
Despite these statistics, however, Jose Mourinho is still hesitant to drop the striker even though the team is clearly more lethal in front of goal without Lukaku in the side. But with the out-of-form striker apparently injured and awaiting further information on his situation, Mourinho must see this as a clear chance to continue dropping the former Everton and Chelsea player.
And with the Manchester club sitting 9 points off the top of the table, with current champions and rivals Manchester City next up in the league, people believe Lukaku’s injury could be a bonus for the squad.