Romelu Lukaku struggled on his return to Everton as Manchester United lost 4-0 with Jamie Carragher comparing his display unfavourably to that of Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The contrast highlighted the weaknesses in Lukaku’s game despite his strong record in front of goal.
Calvert-Lewin impressed throughout in the target-man position for Everton, playing an important role in the opening goal as he beat Chris Smalling in the air to help set up Richarlison to score. It was just the latest in a series of strong performances by the 22-year-old forward.
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“He was outstanding,” Carragher told Monday Night Football.
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“It’s the power, the strength and the pace of this lad causing huge problems. Hold-up play, bringing people into the game. I think he has had a fantastic last few months. Everton have got that decision to make. Can he be that centre-forward for Everton?”
If there is a reservation about entrusting Calvert-Lewin with that responsibility it’s that he has only scored six goals in the Premier League this season. But what was striking on Sunday was how much more he brings to the team than Lukaku does for Manchester United.
A statistical comparison of the two forwards showed that while they had a similar number of touches, Lukaku lost the ball 22 times compared to the 14 times that Calvert-Lewin surrendered possession. The £75m United striker also made less than half the number of sprints that Calvert-Lewin made, while the Everton man ran two kilometres more.
“Both played the full game,” said Carragher. “Possession was very similar but possession lost, Lukaku, that’s awful. It’s really poor. The sprints are not great compared to Calvert-Lewin, but I think we know from watching Lukaku that he’s never going to top that list or the list for distance covered.
“The reason I am comparing them is not just to batter Lukaku’s performance, which was awful. Lukaku is a striker who scores goals. He is a great goalscorer, his record is great. But Calvert-Lewin is a player who is giving you a lot more but isn’t giving you a lot of goals.