Lukaku dropped for Chelsea v Liverpool


Thomas Tuchel
Manager Thomas Tuchel (left) has not had Lukaku as an automatic starter in his Chelsea side

Romelu Lukaku has been dropped for Chelsea’s game against Liverpool, BBC Sport understands.

In an interview recorded several weeks ago but aired on Thursday, Belgium striker Lukaku said he was “not happy” with his bit-part role under Blues boss Thomas Tuchel earlier this season.

He added he would like to return to Inter Milan, who he left for Chelsea in August, in the near future.

Tuchel said the comments had brought the club “noise we don’t need”.

Lukaku has scored seven goals in 18 appearances since he rejoined Chelsea this summer. He has also been hampered by injury and illness and, at times, found himself left out of the starting line-up when fit.

However, he has had a recent upturn in form, scoring in his last two Premier League appearances, after discussions about his role with Tuchel.

TEAM NEWS

Chelsea are set to be without Reece James, who was forced off against Brighton because of a hamstring injury.

Fellow wing-back Ben Chilwell is likely to miss the remainder of the season following knee surgery.

Andreas Christensen is doubtful with a back issue, while Timo Werner and Thiago Silva will be monitored after returning to training.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has returned a suspected positive test for Covid-19 and won’t be at Sunday’s game.

Assistant Pep Lijnders will instead take charge for the visit to Stamford Bridge.

Klopp revealed on Friday that three unnamed players had tested positive for the virus.

Thiago and Takumi Minamino are ruled out by injuries, while Andrew Robertson serves the final game of a three-match suspension.

LAWRO’S PREDICTION

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was right when he said they lost at Leicester on Tuesday because they weren’t at their usual level, but they have had a few of those performances recently.

The Reds have got away with it a few times and won anyway, but it has cost them when they have dropped points – and they cannot afford to do that if they want to win the league.

Chelsea’s next Premier League game after this one is at Manchester City, so this is a very big moment in their season. They are not having a great time either, but I don’t think they are quite done yet.

Both teams really need a win to kickstart their challenge, so that’s why I am going with a draw. It’s a result that will suit City far more.

We will see Liverpool and Chelsea back in form in the second half of the season, for sure. By then, though, City’s lead at the top might be into double digits.

Prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s full predictions v KAWALA guitarist Dan McCarthy

Liverpool could lose consecutive away league games for the first time since February 2017, when they were beaten by Hull City and then Leicester City

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • Liverpool are vying to win a third consecutive Premier League game away to Chelsea. The only team to have previously done so are Blackburn, between 1993-94 and 1995-96.
  • None of the previous 38 meetings in all competitions have ended goalless, with the last 0-0 coming at Stamford Bridge in February 2008.

Chelsea

  • Chelsea have dropped 11 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, one more than they did in total in 2020-21.
  • They kept clean sheets in seven of their opening 10 league fixtures this season but have recorded just two shut-outs in their subsequent 10 matches.
  • The Blues have not won their opening league game of the calendar year since beating Crystal Palace in 2016 (D3, L2).
  • Thomas Tuchel has lost nine of his 16 matches as a manager against Jurgen Klopp (W3, D4), though he is unbeaten in the last three.
  • Mason Mount has been involved in 12 top-flight goals this season, scoring seven and assisting five. It’s the highest figure by any English player and equals his best total in a Premier League campaign, set in 2019-20.
  • Romelu Lukaku has failed to score in eight consecutive league appearances against Liverpool since netting for Everton in a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park in October 2015.

Liverpool

  • Liverpool failed to score for the first time in 29 Premier League games when they were beaten 1-0 by Leicester.
  • The Merseysiders are in danger of back-to-back league defeats for the first time since March 2021, when they lost home fixtures against Chelsea and Fulham in the space of four days.
  • The Reds are winless in their three Premier League games in London this season (D2, L1), letting in eight goals – as many as they conceded in their previous 12 visits to the capital.
  • Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in 13 goals in his past 13 league matches in London, scoring eight and assisting five.
  • Salah has failed to score in all four of his Premier League appearances for Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, though both of his league goals for Chelsea came at the stadium.
  • Fabinho is set to make his 100th Premier League appearance.

Choose your Chelsea formation and starting line-up. It’s up to you how to approach it – you could go for the team you WANT the boss to pick or the one you THINK he will.

Choose your Liverpool formation and starting line-up. It’s up to you how to approach it – you could go for the team you WANT the boss to pick or the one you THINK he will.

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