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Flat-track bully or masterful marksman – the numbers behind Lukaku´s Premier League rise

Romelu Lukaku’s prolific form over recent seasons in the Premier League paved the way for his £75million switch from Everton to Manchester United.

But how does the man who stunningly rebuilt at West Brom and Goodison Park after initially failing to make the grade at Chelsea compare to other leading marksmen in England’s top flight?

Is the Belgium striker’s conversion rate up to the mark for a club with ambitions of restoring themselves to being a major European force and are accusations that Lukaku is a “flat-track bully” well-founded?

With the help of Opta numbers, we assess how Old Trafford’s hero-in-waiting measures up.

 

RECORD MAN ROM

Lukaku leaves Everton as the club’s top scorer in Premier League history with 68 goals – eight better off than club hero Duncan Ferguson and 12 clear of Tim Cahill.

His brace against Hull City in March meant he became the first Everton player since Gary Lineker in 1985-86 to score 20 goals in a league season.

At Everton, Lukaku struck once every 174.7 top-flight minutes, down on his minutes-to-goal ratio of 117.8 during the 2012-13 campaign at West Brom, while he provided 23 assists and created 167 chances during his time on Merseyside.

Only Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Wayne Rooney managed more Premier League goals before turning 24 than Lukaku’s 84. He is seemingly more potent the longer games go on, with 53 of his strikes coming after half-time.

4 – Romelu Lukaku is one of four players in PL history to score 80+ goals before turning 24 (also Owen, Fowler & Rooney). Coveted. pic.twitter.com/t0UUMWm9YY

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 6, 2017

GUNNING FOR THE GOLDEN BOOT

Lukaku now finds himself in direct competition with the likes of Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Alexis Sanchez – star strikers with an eye on the title as well as individual prizes.

Since his Everton debut in 2013, only Manchester City’s Aguero (86) and Tottenham’s Kane (78) have scored more often in the Premier League.

A glut of goals in the final week of the season saw Kane finish last term on 29, but Lukaku’s 25 outstripped Sanchez (24), Aguero and Diego Costa (both 20).

Lukaku is one of three players to have scored 10 or more goals in each of the past five Premier League seasons, alongside Aguero and Arsenal target man Olivier Giroud.

20 – In 16/17 Romelu Lukaku (25) became the 1st Everton player since @GaryLineker (30) in 85/86 to hit 20+ league goals in a season. Legacy. pic.twitter.com/pVlKeBqfSx

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 6, 2017

TOP-SIX APPEAL

As Lukaku’s switch to United neared, his record against the big guns of English football came under the microscope.

Over the past two seasons versus the top six from last season (Chelsea, Tottenham, City, Liverpool, Arsenal and United), Lukaku has scored five times set against 38 facing other top-flight sides.

This gives a top-six percentage of 11.6 and is a smaller proportion than those returned by Aguero, Kane, Costa and Sanchez.

Aguero leads the way on this metric, with nine of his 44 goals coming in the big games (20.5 per cent). Kane also has nine in an overall haul of 54 (16.7 per cent).

Like Lukaku, Sanchez scored five times in these fixtures but yields a better percentage return of 13.5 due to having 37 goals overall in the period. Four of Costa’s 32 strikes (12.5 per cent) came versus the top six.

4 – Only 4 players (Vardy, Hazard, Alli, Sigurdsson) scored more goals against the @premierleague top 6 last season than Lukaku (4). Myth. pic.twitter.com/NZ1VW2kDUB

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 6, 2017

LEADING MAN AT OLD TRAFFORD

Given United’s major problem last year was turning draws into victories against the so-called lesser sides, it would perhaps be wiser to focus on Lukaku’s overall record.

Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic – now laid low with a cruciate knee ligament injury and out of contract – came close to his goal return from the 2016-17 Old Trafford contingent.

Lukaku still came out better, with 25 to Ibrahimovic’s 17, requiring five fewer shots (110) to reach his overall number. It means the Belgian’s shot conversion statistic of 22.7 per cent comfortably out-performs the Sweden great’s 14.8.

Marcus Rashford and Rooney scored five Premier League goals apiece, with Anthony Martial on four and only the France youngster could match Lukaku’s six assists.

Rashford (11.4 per cent), Rooney (9.6) and Martial (9.5) all had significantly lower shot conversion rates than Lukaku, leaving little doubt that he should improve United’s cutting edge.


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