Romelu Lukaku out to end Premier League barren spell after FIFA ruling setback
Romelu Lukaku may not have scored for Manchester United since September but he added to his international goals tally against Japan on Tuesday, prompting the Belgian FA to recognise him as the country’s all-time leading scorer.
Scoring 31 times for your country at the tender age of 24 is quite a remarkable feat but his moment of glory was somewhat short-lived when it was revealed that FIFA had nullified an earlier hat-trick he had scored against Luxembourg back in 2014, effectively moving him back to 28 international goals.
It will surely only be a matter of time before he claims the record once and for all but in the meantime he has the more pressing concern of ending the barren spell he has endured for Manchester United.
Despite an explosive start to his Old Trafford career, the goals have really dried up of late, so Lukaku will be glad to see that Paul Pogba is closing in on a first team return.
Expected goals (xG) data from Understat indicates that Lukaku recorded an average xG figure of 1.065 while Pogba was playing, yet this has dipped to an alarming 0.55 in the Frenchman’s absence.
The Red Devils’ weekend clash with Newcastle United looks like an ideal opportunity for Lukaku to find his scoring boots again and justify his position as the leading ‘Armband’ candidate for GW12.
It remains to be seen whether the influential Pogba, United’s highest rated player on WhoScored this season, will be deemed fit enough to start and if he isn’t, Fantasy Premier League managers may choose to look elsewhere.
If this is the case then man of the moment Mohamed Salah looks like a worthy alternative. Jürgen Klopp will have been delighted that the Egyptian international was rested for his country’s clash with Ghana, so he should be primed to repeat some of the devastating form that he has shown of late when Liverpool entertain Southampton at Anfield, on a ground where they have conceded just once this season.
Salah has certainly lit the touchpaper for the Reds since signing from Roma, prompting many to compare him favourably with Luis Suárez, who still holds the record for most FPL points in a season.
Claiming that particular crown might be asking a bit too much of Salah but Lukaku, on the other hand, will surely receive his own coronation sooner rather than later and there won’t be anything that those party poopers at FIFA can do about it!