Romelu Lukaku's incredible skill has never been deniable, but throughout the young Belgian's career he's been frustratingly inconsistent. He came into Everton's match against Sunderland on Monday on an 11-match scoreless streak in the Premier League, and many were wondering if we would ever actually see Lukaku truly turn into the dominant force his skills suggest he can be. Based on the 12-minute hat trick he scored in the second half, though, we might yet see him reach that frightening potential.
While none of the three goals are exactly wonderstrikes or goal of the season candidates, that in and of itself is a promising sign of things for Lukaku. A big part of his struggles for consistency is that he too often goes for the spectacular, trying for a special goal instead of the more sure option. His scoring record over the last few years could have been much more impressive than it already has been if not for that, and he would have avoided several scoring droughts and helped Everton perform better on a whole at the same time.
This season, though, we've seen a more refined, more patient, more selective version of Lukaku, and in those 12 brilliant minutes in the second half against Sunderland, that version of the Belgian star shone with explosive glory. Two well-executed headers and an open chance that he made no mistakes with didn't make for anything that will show up on many highlight reels in the years to come, but the fact that each finish was so well taken and was the best choice in each situation says a lot about how far Lukaku is coming under the tutelage of his new manager, Ronald Koeman.
While you can certainly heap plenty of fault on Sunderland's defense for each goal, you also have to praise Lukaku's movement and vision on all three. Each time he put himself into the perfect spot to exploit Sunderland's mistakes, finding and getting himself into the hole in their defense before his opponents could react. His teammates deserve plenty of praise for getting him the ball as well, but the quality of Lukaku's play all night long cannot be denied.
Of course, there's every chance this is a one-off that Lukaku struggles to repeat. We've seen it from him before, after all. But given the calm and ease and simplicity of his play, going for the simple option instead of the glory, this could also be a promising sign of things to come. The biggest thing Lukaku has lacked in his career so far is consistency -- and a display like this one is one that might set him on the right path to fixing that weakness. If it does, the Premier League had better watch out.