clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Everton just need to find ways to get Romelu Lukaku the ball

This problem is pretty easy to solve.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Everton spent the first 55 minutes of their game against West Bromwich Albion on Monday doing a really bad job of getting the ball to Romelu Lukaku. Then they decided to prioritize getting him the ball. He scored twice and assisted Arouna Kone's goal in the Toffees' 3-2 win.

Lukaku can be downright dominant, making grown defenders look like very small children, but he's also gone entire months without making an impact. The prevailing theme of Lukaku's Everton career is that they're excellent when he's the former, poor when he's the latter.

Last season, Lukaku had a few games in which he missed clear chances when he was given quality service, but this is not the norm. In general, when Everton does a good job of giving Lukaku service, he contributes to goals and they win. When they do a bad job of giving him service, their attack struggles. This was illustrated perfectly on Monday.

This Steven Naismith final third passing chart could make any Evertonian weep.

naismith

Credit: FourFourTwo StatsZone

Ross Barkley's 18 of 22 completed final third passes is an impressive looking number, until you realize most of them were sideways. This doesn't count the number of times he dribbled straight into a defender without passing, which was about 15.

barkley

Credit: FourFourTwo StatsZone

But when Everton did go direct to Lukaku, they got results. Both of his goals came from diagonals into the box from Gerard Deulofeu, and on his assist, the ball got to him via a medium-range James McCarthy pass that beat a defender.

It's worth just hitting the ball toward Lukaku repeatedly because, even if he's occasionally disappointing, he's still Everton's most talented player. He's just about the most physically talented player in the world, period. He's bigger, stronger and faster than everyone he comes up against, even in the Premier League, and sometimes by several orders of magnitude.

Soccer might be a sport that's more about technique and tactics than physical ability, but Everton do not have Barcelona's passers, Juventus' defenders or Bayern Munich's intelligence. They are an average team with a souped-up semi-truck up top, and their best chance to win games is to feed him early, direct passes, over and over again.

Barkley needs to stop dribbling into black holes. Roberto Martinez needs to abandon his ideals about pretty passing and possession. Good things happen when you get Lukaku the ball. So what if doesn't have the off-the-ball intelligence, first touch or consistent finishing that you'd expect from someone who cost £30 million? He's still a monster. Just get him the damn ball.