x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Premier League Best and Worst: Chelsea's best striker not in blue

Romelu Lukaku may be Chelsea's best striker, but he is wearing West Bromwich Albion's kit as the 20 year old completes his loan deal. Gary Meenaghan works through the English Premier League's best and worst for the week.

Instead of bringing in an expensive summer transfer Chelsea should just bring back Romelu Lukaku, who is currently on loan at West Bromwich Albion.
Instead of bringing in an expensive summer transfer Chelsea should just bring back Romelu Lukaku, who is currently on loan at West Bromwich Albion.

Best Chelsea Striker - Lukaku

When Fernando Torres said recently that Radamel Falcao would face a fight to nail down a place in Chelsea's attack were he to join in the summer, the Spaniard was referring primarily to his own steely grip on the coveted position of No 1 striker.

Yet there is another Blue who may be ahead of him in the queue next year if his performances this season are anything to go by.

Romelu Lukaku's strike in West Bromwich Albion's 3-0 defeat of Southampton was the Belgian's 14th goal in 17 league starts - the same amount of goals as Torres has managed since moving to Stamford Bridge in January 2011.

Lukaku also managed two assists against the Saints to take his count to seven, two behind the Spanish striker's tally for this season.

The 20 year old clearly has time on his side, but having grown accustomed to the taste of first-team action, he should be unwilling to return to being a bit-part player.

Whoever Chelsea appoint as their new manager this summer should focus on the £18m (Dh102.05m) prodigy Lukaku rather than spending more of Roman Abramovich's rubles on a striker they do not need.

 

Best Debut - Madley

Steve Clarke, the West Brom coach, said he hoped the performance of referee Robert Madley does not detract from what was an accomplished away win.

Yet to ignore Madley would be unfair.

The referee was making his top-flight debut and while the game was hardly fierce and fiery, he sent off three players in Gaston Ramirez, Danny Fox and Marc-Antoine Fortune.

Major decisions require major courage and Madley proved he is not lacking in that department. He judged all three calls correctly and deserves the plaudits being thrown his way.

The man in black rarely gets positive press, so to deny him it, in his Premier League debut, would be plain mean - even if it detracts a tad from West Brom's perfect away display.

 

Worst Luck - Boyce

With Wigan Athletic already missing Antolin Alcaraz, their best defender, the sight of Maynor Figueroa carried off on a stretcher Saturday against Tottenham Hotspur will not have been welcomed by Latics fans with one eye on next month's FA Cup final against Manchester City.

Fortunately, Roberto Martinez also has Emmerson Boyce in his ranks. At least, it was fortunate for 89 minutes.

The Barbadian centre-half rose to powerfully head home his side's equaliser after Gareth Bale had opened the scoring and when Callum McManaman had put Wigan ahead, Boyce looked resolute in refusing Spurs a point.

Alas, in the dying minutes, as Tom Huddlestone drove a low free kick into the area, Boyce - under pressure from Bale - was caught out and bundled the ball into his own net.

Bale refused to celebrate as Spurs pushed for a winner.

 

Best Timing - Henderson

When Luis Suarez was banned for 10 games this week, cynics suggested not only that Liverpool might be about to lose their most-prized asset to foreign shores, but also that the club's Premier League campaign was set to end prematurely.

As they headed north to Newcastle though, everybody forgot about the secret weapon within their ranks: a (former) Black Cat.

Jordan Henderson has never been much liked at St James' Park courtesy of his ties with rivals Sunderland, where he started his career and played more than 60 first-team games between 2008 and 2011.

That feeling is unlikely to change any time soon after the 22 year old borrowed Suarez's shooting boots and fired home twice, the second goal - a curling free kick - securing a 6-0 rout.

The result means Liverpool have now scored 67 goals this season, more than any team aside from champions Manchester United.

 

Worst Hangover - Man United

After winning the league title on Monday night, the celebrations at United clearly lasted longer than Sir Alex Ferguson would have hoped as his players failed to turn up for the start of the first half against Arsenal last night at Emirates Stadium.

Errant passes, sloppy defending and a casualness unusual in Ferguson's sides was evident early on as Tomas Rosicky capitalised on arch-villain Robin van Persie's mistake in midfield in only the third minute.

The returning Dutchman was perhaps caught up in the moment, but he was also caught out in possession and when Theo Walcott sneaked around the blindside of Patrice Evra to drive low through the legs of David De Gea, it was the end of the party.

United woke up soon after and managed to secure a draw.

 

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

 

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