The shot charts show why I would love Lukaku at Arsenal but also why he’ll never come

This is a fantasy sports question because Chelsea will never sell Lukaku to Arsenal. But if I could, I would take Lukaku over Benteke in an instant.

First, Chelsea won’t sell Lukaku to Arsenal because, as we would all simply say, they don’t need the money. But there’s a second, more sinister reason why a club like Chelsea will never sell a player to a rival: because it’s in their best interest to destabilize the League by having a Chelsea player on loan rampaging through the division scoring goals.

Think of the Lukaku loan as almost like a Chelsea B team (he even plays in blue) in the Premier League. His job is to get experience, get better, and hopefully rob Chelsea’s competitors of points. His two goals against Liverpool did exactly that: he took points off a top-four team.

It’s not his fault but the loan system in the Premier League is broken and has been since the two big-money teams started stockpiling their rosters with the world’s talent and then using the loan system as a way to alleviate the pressure of having so many players. Craig Bellamy’s loan from Man City to Cardiff caused a big stir in Championship (2nd division of English football) and Burnley chief Paul Fletcher called for a review of the rules when it was revealed that City were stumping up £75k per week of Bellamy’s £95k salary while he was at Cardiff.

But where City loaned Bellamy to a lower division, the Lukaku loan from Chelsea to Everton has the potential to be significantly more disruptive. Already this season Lukaku has had a major impact on Everton’s fortunes. Lukaku’s goals have won Everton 1 point against Liverpool, 3 points against Villa, 3 points against Newcastle, and 3 points against West Ham. He also took a goal off Man City in Everton’s loss which will only become a talking point if Chelsea beat City to the title by one in goal difference.

What happens if Everton secure a draw because Lukaku scores a goal on Arsenal? Everton get one point, but Chelsea have to look at that as two extra points gained.

I can see Chelsea and City voraciously buying the best young players in world football and then loaning them out to various clubs to sink or swim. Why wouldn’t they? Every point those players take off a top-four rival is a point in their pocket.

And let’s be honest here, Lukaku is that good. Maybe he’s not that good right now, but I think he’s one of a handful of players who are going to be good enough to play for a top club one day.

What makes Lukaku such a huge talent is that he’s 20 years old and he’s already a composed finisher. Garden variety strikers take time to mature into good finishers — 27 or 28 years old — but Lukaku already had a season and change where he has shown that he can finish.

Take this chart of his shots this season:


Light green is the 6 yard box, dark green is the 18 yard box, red is a goal, blue is a shot that the keeper saved (or was cleared off the line) and black is a shot that missed entirely or was blocked. In the final 10 yards, Lukaku is 9 out of 10 for getting shots on target and has 5 goals from those 10 shots. The remainder of his shots, he’s 6 of 13 getting on target and 2 for 13 converting to goals.

Lukaku is shooting a crazy percent of his shots on target, he’s only missed the mark 8 times out of 23, and that almost always equates to a hot start. But this is the second consecutive year that he has shot at a high percentage, he was 47/99 on target last season.

Now here’s Giroud:



Olivier Giroud has been the beneficiary of 18 shots in the final 10 yards. He has only managed 7 of 18 on target and 5 of 18 goals. Outside 10 yards, he’s 7 of 25 on target and just 2 of 25 for goals. And like Lukaku, his form has basically continued from last season — last year he converted 11 of 38 shots on goal, which he got from 107 total shots.

And finally, here’s Benteke:

bentekeAnd as you can see, Benteke is useless. He wins a lot of headers but for me he’s never lived up to his reputation as a fearsome finisher. 3 shots on goal from 11 attempts in the 10 yard area. 8 out of 16 on frame from distance and 2 out of 16 converted into goals.

It’s early in the season and of course we want to exercise a bit of caution over looking at a stats set like 23 shots (Lukaku) and drawing too many conclusions. But so far the data confirms what I see with my own two eyes, Lukaku is a dangerous finisher, whereas Giroud and Benteke are not.

That’s why people are talking him up. That’s why people want him at Arsenal. And that, plus the fact he’s like having a Manchurian Candidate destabilizing the League, is exactly why Chelsea would never sell him to Arsenal.


28 thoughts on “The shot charts show why I would love Lukaku at Arsenal but also why he’ll never come

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1ChitownArsenal

    Lukaku would really have to want Arsenal specifically and refuse to sign a new contract with Chelsea. If he continues getting passed over at Chelsea, why would he re-sign with them? Well, other than for money, I guess. When is Lukaku’s contract up?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Dr.Gooner

      See below; Lukaku went out on loan by his own choosing according to Mou! And the plot thickens… Transfermarkt has his contract going out to 2016.

  2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Dr.Gooner

    After seeing that Lukaku scored a brace vs Liverpool, I was kind of shocked because he normally feasts on inferior opposition. So I watched the MOTD highlights from the scouser derby with great interest. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but to the naked eye he looked like a very raw player who benefitted from an incredibly open game on either end. Both teams were going hell for leather, and I lost count of the number of opportunities that were presented to Lukaku to either score from or to set up a team mate following a counter attack. He could, and possibly should have had scored and assisted at least one from play. But he always kind of gave it away or just dwelled on the ball too long, even during an opportunity when he had a 4 v 2. Yes, he still scored two goals, but one was just a booming near post header that took advantage of his massive size and strength, and the other came to him as a roller from 8 yards out with Mignolet already beaten. As good as he’s looked at times for Everton, and as good as he’s undoubtedly going to become, this game suggested to me that he still has a lot of maturing to do.

    Interestingly, Mou claims he chose to leave CFC on loan instead of being made to go. And that he never told anyone why he didn’t choose to stay. Maybe, just maybe Mou can drive enough of a wedge between him and Chelsea to make him go somewhere else? We can only hope.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

      You are right that in spite of his 2 goals, his misses in that game recalled another promising striker we all know and love, Bendtner

  3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1ChitownArsenal

    I think his contract is up in 2016. Would love for Lukaku to make life difficult for his owners should they keep buying older players to start ahead of him. He’d be amazing for us. I still think Bony wouldve been good for us too.

    1. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Dr.Gooner

      To me our job at Arsenal is to find “the next Lukaku.” His talent was obvious from such a young age at Anderlecht, as AW is fond of saying “You don’t need a scout to tell you he is good.” But we do need our scouts to find the next young striker who could be that good. We do have a few in our farm system and reserves who have a shot: Afobe, Sanogo, Lipman… but the one I am excited about is Chuba Akpom. Not on the ridiculous trajectory Lukaku was at the same age, but not all players develop as soon as that.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1Norris

    The loan system is a mess and is allowing big clubs to buy lots of players and simply send em out on loan to see how they do. If they do well, they can return all the better for their experiences, or if they dont live up to expectations, particualrly in City and the chav’s case, they can simply be loaned out till their contract expires.

    Waiting to hear where Jovetic will be loaned to come January.

    Ive felt Kukaku would be an ideal Arsenal signing for a while now, but as you say the chavs and especially Mourinho would never sell to us. If he aint loaning us Ba, then we can forget about the Belgie…

  5. Vote -1 Vote +11NiltotheArsenal

    Not to mention that we still have to play Everton twice. Drogba made Arsenal his bitch for years, and many think Lukaku is Drogba like (Drogba-lite?).

    He’s one scary mother, but I think this team has evolved beyond being intimidated by any single player. Still, he can wreak havoc across the league help Che$ki’s nefarious purposes.

  6. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    What Lukaku should realize is that at Arsenal, he would learn and play as he becomes a more complete striker whereas at Chelsea, they won’t/have not given him that time to develop.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +11NiltotheArsenal

      The best fit for Arsenal is a player less mercenary, someone who values club and contract beyond today’s norm. Is Lukaku one of those players? It’s impossible to know.

  7. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

    My impression of Lukaku is that he gets a lot of one-on-one chances on the break, and hits a lot of them straight at the keeper. Perhaps that’s the flipside of shooting so accurately; by contrast Walcott for example seem to aim just inside the post, which means that he shoots just wide on many occasions.

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

    I was gutted when Chelsea bought Lukaku, because it was clear even then he was going to be something special. He’s said in the past that Drogba is his idol, and he wanted to emulate him at Chelsea. If that’s his dream, then he’s Chelsea’s to lose. But this going on loan business, how long until his dreams change?

    It does seem there is some beef between him and Chelsea, but it’s hard to say. Mourinho has a recent history of alienating players, and we can only hope that this trend continues in the case of Lukaku. He’ll not end up at Arsenal though.

  9. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1alx96

    In Arsenql style of football, striker is not specifically used as goal scorer. More than That, Arsenal strikers must be able to link up plays with their midfield, as a target man that brings other players into the game. Now, Giroud’s link up play is very good, as was other Arsenal striker’s like Henry, RVP, or even Adebayor.

    Will Lukaku be able to play in that role? Yes he is a very good finisher, but is he intelligent enough to link up plays?

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1Sub

    Tim, any thoughts on Seydou Doumbia for Arsenal – would he fit? Good age, good dribbler, decent finishing (21 SOG, 13 SOT, 9 goals in 11 games).

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1johngoodman

    A little harsh on Benteke, given that you’re looking at a small sample size this season. Last year he was much more of a lethal finisher.

  12. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1jop

    Why must I suffer through Robson. “Arsenal aren’t a great defensive team”…… Arsenal goals conceded: 10, tied 2nd lowest with Chelsea.

  13. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Söng

    I could get used to this. Ramsey, two more goals and another MOTM performance. Özil, two assists and yet seems capable of so much more. Szczesny with his obligatory outstanding save at a critical time in the match. Clean sheet and top of the table.

    And brilliant substitution by Arsene. Sensing the need to secure the result, he sends out Flamini who does indeed clinch the match with a well taken goal from Özil’s excellent assist.

    1. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Dr.Gooner

      Szczesny fucking blew my mind with that save. Unbelievable! His best one yet. It’s a totally different game if that goal goes in.

      And how about Ozil’s pass for the 2nd? Now that’s what Arsenal Gentleman would call a “Mesmerton.” Minuscule error either side and it’s intercepted or deflected. It was literally centimeter perfect. You rarely see a player able to put his foot through the ball like that in stride, inside the penalty box.

      My absolute favorite moment of the match though was when Arteta beasted his way past four different would-be Cardiff tacklers. He was stupendous today. Real captain’s performance.

  14. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Dr.Gooner

    Tim, I hope you do a piece on Julian Draxler. Seems like a player who loves a shot, is genuinely two footed, has good size, gets on the end of things, even scores with his head… Release clause for 45M seems like cinch for a player like that. The next AM turned CF in the Wenger era?

  15. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Hummmmm as in we are humming along.

    Szczesny a brilliant save to steal a goal from Cardiff.

    MOTM: Ramsey.

    Giroud has to play to the whistle because we all know RVP would have.

    We’ve always bemoaned the lack of a plan B option and I think we now have that with Özil’s passing. Fabregas never gave us that.

    I got up at 7AM to be there to see Man U drop points.

    I would expect some rotation against Hull.

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