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Chelsea's Lille Performance Raises Major Questions Over Romelu Lukaku Future

Chelsea's Lille Performance Raises Major Questions Over Romelu Lukaku Future

Chelsea have taken control of their Champions League last-16 tie against Lille, running out 2-0 winners at Stamford Bridge this evening.

It was a well deserved victory for Thomas Tuchel's side, who looked noticeably more dangerous in attack in spite of the absence of their record signing.

Romelu Lukaku put in a dreadful performance last weekend, managing only seven touches in the entire 90 minutes of the 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace. That is the fewest of any player in a Premier League game since records began.

Many pointed to Thomas Tuchel's tactics for the reason behind the Belgian's struggles, although his manager saw the matter differently. Speaking after that game, he said that the team's system was not at fault for his lack of form.

No, it’s not about system...

Obviously he was not involved and could not make a point today. I’m not sure if it says so much about us in general.

With Lukaku subsequently dropped from the side for tonight's fixture Lille, it was always going to be interesting to see how Chelsea looked in attack in his absence.

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Chelsea shine in Champions League without Romelu Lukaku

With Kai Havertz acting as the focal point, the Tuchel's team selection quickly looked justified. The German striker crafted a couple of excellent opportunities in the opening minutes, he would then give the home side the lead with a thumping header from a corner.

While they would not keep this ferocious play up throughout the entire first half, there was noticeably more energy in the final third that we have become accustomed to seeing from Chelsea.

Their fluidity in attack was displayed during the second goal, with Havertz and Pulisic vacating the space for N'Golo Kante to break forward, who eventually played the American in behind.

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Chelsea looked incredibly comfortable from this point on and never looked like allowing Lille back into the contest. They would ultimately run out as 2-0 winners.

In all, Havertz and the other attacking players performed with the type of exuberance that Lukaku has so often been lacking in his game over the last few months.

Should we be surprised by any of this? Thomas Tuchel enjoys using a dynamic front line, one that is interchangeable and moves all over the pitch. Playing Lukaku limits his ability to do this.

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Being a £97.5million striker, the 28-year old should be able to adapt to any system. While it could be said his manager has not helped him in some respects with his tactics, he needs to offer much more than he has in recent times.

As has often been the case in the past, this seems like an instance of a Chelsea manager being handed an expensive player and being told to make it work. Luckily for Tuchel, he has enough credit in the bank from last season's Champions League triumph to ensure his position is not under threat due to a failure to do so.

Lukaku has plenty of time to turn things around at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have some big games ahead and he should get an opportunity to justify that mammoth price tag in the months ahead.

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Unfortunately for him, tonight's performance gives a clear idea as to how this team can thrive without him in the side. Thomas Tuchel now has a decision to make on how to shape his team going forward, starting with this weekend's Carabao Cup final against an in-form Liverpool.

Quiz: Name Every Player To Score 30 Or More Champions League Goals

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