16 GOALS IN 57 GAMES AGAINST TOP 6 IS WHAT £75m GETS YOU
IF Manchester United are looking to make a flying start this season, then Romelu Lukaku is most definitely their man. The first visitors to Old Trafford on August 13 are West Ham, and they are Lukaku’s mark. In four seasons at Everton, he scored in nine games against West Ham. He likes Aston Villa, too, scoring in five games over three seasons, and Crystal Palace, with four scoring appearances. Signing for United solves another problem, too, because he certainly doesn’t thrive against them: a run of 10 games without a goal. He never scored a League goal against Chelsea for Everton, either — albeit he couldn’t play against them when on loan — and just one against Tottenham. He does better against Manchester City, and reasonably against Arsenal and Liverpool. But his overall record against the top six clubs amounts to 16 goals in 57 appearances. This does not make Lukaku a dud. Diego Costa did not score against Manchester United or Tottenham last season, and only against Arsenal in the FA Cup, and Chelsea still won the League. Yet the last time Manchester United claimed the title — season 2012-13 — Robin van Persie was prolific against their biggest rivals. He scored against every opponent in the top 10, bar ninth-placed Swansea. He scored against Liverpool and Arsenal home and away. And Manchester United are not spending £75m on a striker to finish outside of the top four again. They cannot guarantee, and would not want, another Europa League lifeline.
Sign on: Lukaku meets a United fan and now has to deliver success