When it was announced that Romelu Lukaku was returning to Stamford Bridge for a club-record fee of £97.5m at the beginning of the season, many thought Chelsea’s ‘number 9’ crisis was over. Lukaku felt like the final piece missing from the puzzle but it became puzzling when Lukaku began to fire blanks, the interview with Sky Italia sent everything spiralling and Tuchel was forced to seek solace in Kai Havertz.
Kai Havertz played the ‘false 9 role’ well for a number of games before seeing his form deep. Tuchel has started Romelu Lukaku in the past couple of games for Chelsea and the Belgian has scored 3 goals in those games. With a monumental FA Cup final against Liverpool knocking at the door, who will lead the attack for Chelsea; Romelu Lukaku or Kai Havertz?
The Headache for Tuchel
Being in charge of a team with multiple world-class talents can be challenging because it gives a selection headache which could make or mar your season. There are factors like injury, schedule and player availability that influence a manager’s team selection.
Chelsea have played 60 games this season, challenging in 6 competitions. The debilitating effect of this heavy schedule showed on the team especially when they had to lose a number of players to injury as well as Covid 19.
Thomas Tuchel has had to move players around to fill the void in order to compete at top level. For example, Tuchel has played Ruben Loftus-Cheek at centre back, right wing-back, central midfield, and attacking midfield just to mention a few.
The Forwards Tuchel hoped will bang in goals have been found wanton this season. More often than not Chelsea have had to rely on goals from their defenders. That said, a cup final is a different level entirely so it is pertinent for Tuchel to get his selection right. This is not the first time Chelsea are facing Liverpool in a cup final this season. They lost to Klopp’s men on penalties in the Carabao Cup final.
In a bid for revenge, the Blues will be relying on anyone leading the attack to cause severe damage to Liverpool. But the question still remains, who is in the best position to lead the attack, Romelu Lukaku or Kai Havertz?
Argument for Lukaku
When Chelsea shelled out £97.5m for Romelu Lukaku at the beginning of the season, they were expecting the Belgian to replicate the 30-goal season he had at Inter Milan the previous season. But Lukaku has only managed to score 15 goals this season, yet, he is the highest goal scorer for Chelsea this season.
Lukaku found the net twice against Wolves last weekend and once against Leeds United making it 3 goals in 2 games for the big Belgian. His confidence is in a good place right now and giving him a spot in the final could boost his confidence even more. He would cause havoc for the Liverpool defenders which might lead to Chelsea’s victory.
Lukaku gave the Liverpool defenders a lot of issues when he came on from the bench in the Carabao Cup final last February. He even scored a goal that was disallowed by a controversial VAR call. If Lukaku did that back in February when he was really struggling, imagine what he would do now that his confidence is beginning to come back.
Argument for Havertz
Kai Havertz has already cemented himself as an icon in Chelsea’s history by scoring the winning goal against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League final. He also scored the winner against Palmeiras in the Club World Cup final. That said, you can tell that Kai Havertz is a man for big games.
The silky German can cause problems for Liverpool because he brings fluidity to Chelsea’s attack. You can put money on him to score in a big game like this because that is the kind of player he is, a big-game player.
Argument for Lukaku and Havertz
Thomas Tuchel could also go for both Romelu Lukaku and Kai Havertz in attack for Chelsea. The German gaffer has employed the 3-4-1-2 formation for the blues in recent months with two strikers and a number 10 behind them.
Mason Mount has played as the number 10 in most games but the strikers have been rotated. Tuchel could opt for Lukaku and Havertz to play upfront with Mason Mount running things behind them.
The only problem with this selection is that Chelsea will not start with the turbo speed of Timo Werner to catch Liverpool on counterattacks.
At the end of the day, the ball is in Tuchel’s court. Chelsea have had terrible luck at Wembley in recent years and the German manager would be looking to put an end to that. It would not be an easy feat because Liverpool is a team in top form. So Tuchel’s tactics have to be top-notch in order to avoid a third consecutive FA Cup final loss.