Zaman Siddiqui's Match Review
Lukaku didn’t score. Let that sink in: Romelu Lukaku didn’t score against us. So this is what it feels like to play against Everton without the one goal Lukaku handicap. Prior to this match, the Belgian scored a goal against us in each of his nine previous appearances. Had he scored in this match, he would have been on double figures for consecutive goals scored! Going into this match, I was deeply concerned, given the fact that he has already scored two dozen goals so far this season. This year could be the one he makes a big move elsewhere. He is the top scoring PL player this calendar year netting 14 times with just 23 shots on target. Only Lionel Messi has scored more often in the top five European leagues than Lukaku with 17 goals.
Even though he failed to register a single shot on target in this match, I have to pay homage to the Belgian striker who could make a bigger name for himself at PSG, Barcelona or Real Madrid. I personally think that we won’t see him play in the Premier League next season. He has stated countless times before that he wants to play Champions League football. Perhaps looking back at his career will guide us to the answer. With that, we will be able to better work out whether we are going to lose a potential six points or not in the seasons to come (they all count)!
Lukaku signed for FC Anderlecht at the age of 16 in May 2009. It only took him a few months to get into the first-team just in time for next season, which he ended as the top goalscorer in the Belgian Pro League with 15 goals and won the title with his side. He also scored four goals during the club’s run to the quarter-finals of the Europa League. Makes sense for a youngster to get Europa League football, so that they can expect Champions League football when they are older. Well, that’s true if his name is Romelu Lukaku. In August 2011, he signed for Chelsea for £17M (including add-ons).
When his team won the Champions League against Bayern Munich, he admitted that he was disappointed with his involvement in his debut season, and as such, refused to hold the trophy as he didn’t feel like a winner. I mean, wow! What 19 year old kid would say that they wouldn’t want to hold arguably one of the most difficult trophies to obtain? John Terry celebrated like a complete wally, despite not even playing in that match, whilst Lukaku didn’t even let himself be happy. From there, it is worth noting both are talented, but one actually cares about his footballing career on, and more importantly, off the pitch. He later went on to outscore all of his Chelsea teammates on loan at West Brom and Everton the two seasons after. Additionally, he is the first foreign player to score 80 goals before his 24th birthday.
Our encounters with Everton over recent years have been awful – that is down to one man. Lukaku’s first appearance for Everton just had to be against us! Back in September of 2013, he came off the bench for Nikica Jelavic in the second half – who would play him? Oh, right. Us. Anyway, he came on in the second half and scored the winner in the 86th minute. That is the simplest way I can describe our relationship with him: he scores a goal and we lose the game.
Despite the hype around Lukaku and Everton, this was one of the most boring matches to watch all season. It is our first goalless draw this season and indeed at the London Stadium. The thing is, that this wasn’t an off day. There is a reason they have now failed to win any of their last six away games. Something that really caught me by surprise and indeed others who made Lukaku captain in their Fantasy Football teams (admit it) was that Everton failed to get a shot on target in the whole match. In fact, it took them until the 70th minute to register their first shot. In all honesty, Everton just weren’t at the races. Koeman said that if he was allowed to do so, he would have made 10 changes at half time.
Furthermore, I feel that whilst Everton didn’t attack like they normally do, we defended with a lot of confidence. Collins, in particular, played an absolute blinder. In previous games, through balls have snuck through when we’ve played with three at the back. With Lukaku to stop, it could have gone all wrong. Fortunately, our defence was at hand making lots of clearances. Masuaku and Nordtveit could have been forgotten about already had the manager not given them second chances. Nordtveit kept his second clean sheet out of two games playing in his native position, whilst Masuaku’s new hairstyle seems to have invigorated him, as he made seven dribbles and tracked back well. Speaking of players that never should have been considered to be completely dropped, Adrián kept his fourth clean sheet of the season; the same number Darren Randolph has kept, despite the Spaniard playing 10 games fewer. In short, we never deserved to concede. Something I can’t say too often this season.
When John Terry's contract expires at Chelsea, Mark Noble will become the current longest serving one-club player in the Premier League. pic.twitter.com/n06RCdlcJG
— West Ham News (@WHUFC_News) April 22, 2017
Some new signings work out and some don’t – Calleri is currently in the latter pile. Our lack of attacking options meant that we struggled to finish. We had 15 shots with only three on target. In some ways, it is disappointing not to have got all three points, but given the predicament we are in regards to attacking options, we can’t complain. On the plus side, this draw shows the strength of our character. We have had 11 players out for at least 2 months this season, yet are currently in 13th. It is important that we keep this mentality against Stoke next week. If we can somehow end the season in the top half, that form could carry on into next season.