Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has pointed to Romelu Lukaku’s performance against Tottenham in response to Antonio Conte’s criticism.
Lukaku enjoyed a blistering start to life back at Stamford Bridge, making an instant impact with a goal against Arsenal. Following on from that, he scored twice on his second home debut against Aston Villa.
But while he has continued to play a vital role, his goals have dried up. In fact, he has not scored in four games.
Wednesday’s 1-0 Champions League defeat to Juventus featured in that run. After the game, which Lukaku struggled to affect, his former Inter boss Conte claimed Chelsea and Tuchel have not figured out how to use the Belgian.
Lukaku did not score in that game either, but it was a sign of his other strengths.
“He was obviously not on the telly after the Tottenham game,” Tuchel said.
“I don’t feel offended, he has every right. He is in the TV studio. I even saw it while I was showering before the match in the hotel.
“I saw him talking about us and I saw all the pictures between Romelu and our players from the Tottenham game.
“They [pundits] were talking about the link-up play from Romelu, and how strong he is and how much he scored so they were praising him.”
Nevertheless, Tuchel admitted that Conte was right to point out Lukaku’s weaknesses against Juventus.
Lukaku struggled in Juventus v Chelsea
“Juventus made [Lukaku] isolated,”the German added.
“It felt like seven players around him all the time in the box. They did it good and they did it in their style. We have to accept it.
“It’s not a general problem. We need to look at the games very individually.
“Any striker in the world would be isolated if we play so poorly in transition, like we did against Man City.”
Chelsea are looking to arrest a run of two defeats in a row when facing Southampton on Saturday.