Romelu Lukaku (£11.7m) looks set to miss Gameweek 9 of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) after twisting his ankle in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League.
The Belgian limped out of Chelsea’s 4-0 win over Malmo and while an exact timeframe on his recovery is still not known, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel confirmed after full-time that his striker would miss “some matches”.
Lukaku was the second most-bought FPL forward of Gameweek 9 before news of his injury broke, sitting in over a third (36.3%) of Fantasy squads in total.
Well over 60% of the top 10,000 FPL managers owned the Belgium international, too.
Lukaku had also been top of our captaincy poll for the upcoming Gameweek, with over half of our voters backing the premium striker with the armband:
We’ve now reset the results of that poll, which you can vote on again in the sidebar of this page.
TUCHEL’S COMMENTS ON LUKAKU’S INJURY AND ROTATION
It was a double-whammy for Chelsea on the injury front, with Timo Werner (£8.6m) succumbing to a hamstring strain shortly before the interval.
Tuchel said of his injured strike duo:
“Romelu twisted his ankle with the foul in the box and Timo has a hamstring injury. It will take a while for both of them. We need more examinations to be more precise but they will be out for some matches.
“If I knew before [the game], I wouldn’t have [started Lukaku]. But how can you know it before and it was necessary that he was on the pitch and he started very strong. I spoke with him about the situation, that I think that he carries a bit of mental fatigue around with him. I think that is also normal but he is our number nine and is our reference upfront.
“The best thing against mental fatigue is a goal and we knew that we could be the dominant team. We knew that we wanted to build our attack today with Mason and Timo around him and him as the reference up front in the middle.
“I had the strong belief that in a Champions League match he could turn things around in terms of scoring and being decisive, which he actually did because he was super strong in our start. He took the foul and without him maybe it’s not 2-0,
“So no, I don’t regret it. It’s not a muscle injury or because of physical fatigue. He is a little bit overplayed, this is my opinion and maybe I’m not even right. This was a moment to give him confidence and let him play. I don’t regret it, things like this can happen. It was bad luck.”
There were also some ominous words on rotation from Tuchel, who named a strong team for a routine win over the Swedes:
“This will be maybe one of the shortest pre-match meetings in my history of coaching because we want everything on the same level. We have the chance to switch on some positions, to demand from everybody physically the same input.”
Ben Chilwell (£5.7m), Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.2m) and Andreas Christensen (£5.1m) started their second successive matches of the week, although the first two of those were handed breathers midway through the second half.
Antonio Rudiger (£5.8m) and Thiago Silva (£5.5m) were both back in the starting XI after missing Gameweek 8 but Reece James (£5.5m) and Marcos Alonso (£5.9m) were again only substitutes.
WHO PLAYS UP FRONT NOW FOR CHELSEA?
On the assumption that Werner and Lukaku do indeed miss Gameweek 9, Chelsea need a new attacking spearhead against the Canaries.
With the likes of Olivier Giroud, Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi gone from the club either on a permanent basis or on loan, the European champions are short of options up top.
Enter Kai Havertz (£8.1m).
The German replaced Lukaku after 24 minutes of Wednesday’s clash, going on to score his side’s third goal with a fine finish having earlier wasted a clearer opening. Havertz racked up four shots in all, the most of anyone on show.
Havertz has occasionally played as false nine in the past and ended 2020/21 mostly being used in that role, although hasn’t had a look-in through the middle since Lukaku joined. He’ll very likely be the man playing centrally on Saturday and at 3.9% owned, is a veritable FPL differential for the visit of the Premier League’s basement club.
“Always, always a chance and it is always necessary to prove a point. We will have some games without Romelu and Timo so everyone is invited to join the race for minutes on the pitch.
“When they are on the pitch, they need to show their hunger and determination to be decisive and be in the box.
“This is how it is and they did it today but there’s still room to improve and on Saturday we need the same performance, hunger and determination from whoever starts for us because we need goals to win matches. We want to find solutions without Romelu and Timo, that’s clear. Everyone will join the race to be decisive for us.” – Thomas Tuchel on Kai Havertz and Callum Hudson-Odoi
WHO ARE THE BEST LUKAKU REPLACEMENTS IN FPL?
We’ll have an article out tomorrow looking at the best replacements for the Belgian in FPL.
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