Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has criticised his starting front three whom he believes forced Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante to do extra work in midfield in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday.
The Blues ended the game with four shot attempts, with only one of them being on target, and they were all in the second half.
In the first half, the visitors could barely escape their own half due to Manchester City’s relentless pressure.
Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, and Romelu Lukaku even only had 23, 26, and 21 touches overall in the game — almost half of Manchester City’s front three.
Tuchel and Chelsea fans were not particularly happy with Lukaku after the Belgian squandered a glorious opportunity to put the Blues ahead against Manchester City by attempting to set up Ziyech.
With just over nine minutes gone in the first half at the Etihad, Lukaku found himself in space after spinning away from John Stones and galloping towards City’s goal.
However, rather than entering the box at pace and looking to test Ederson, Lukaku attempted to play Ziyech in with a through ball to his right.
Lukaku had the fewest touches of any Chelsea player in the first 45 minutes and the Blues failed to register a single shot in the first half.
According to OptaJoe, that was the first time they have failed to do so in a Premier League game under Tuchel, and the first time overall since they played Newcastle in May 2018.
Lukaku’s afternoon didn’t particularly improve in the second half, as he was denied by Ederson when 1 v 1 with City’s goalkeeper.
The 28-year-old became the most expensive signing in Chelsea’s history when he returned to Stamford Bridge from Inter Milan for £97.5 million in the summer, after winning the Serie A title last season.
After the game, De Bruyne, who was substituted late in the second half, ran onto the pitch to greet his compatriot.
The duo shared an elaborate handshake and a quick embrace, before going separate ways.
A perfectly normal gestures among international teammates, but one which did not go down well with several Chelsea fans on social media.
Some accused Lukaku of ‘having no shame’, while others pointed out exchanging pleasantries with an opponent would have been firmly off the menu during Diego Costa’s days at Stamford Bridge.
Other fans questioned Lukaku’s commitment to the cause and urged Chelsea to cut their losses after shelling out £97.5 million for him in the summer.
‘We had eight or nine offensive transitions, but had zero touches in the box,” Tuchel told BT Sport.
‘That was a big problem today, the performance of our front players – a lack of position, timing and composure.
‘We lost too many balls too easily. Lukaku sometimes needs to do the service, he is included in this, he had many ball losses in very promising circumstances, and he had a huge chance.
‘Of course we want to serve him, but he is part of the team, and the performance up front, we can do much better.’
“The performance in the opponents’ half was not good enough in the first half. We lost too many balls, lack positioning and timing in counter-attacks.
“We need to step up there, we need to show more quality on this kind of level.
“We cannot always rely on Jorgi to score penalties — it’s simply like this.”
To be fair, Tuchel picked the team and therefore, at least shares some of the blame as well.
The manager did not have many options at the back, but he had almost all of his attackers available.