Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink said he was ‘surprised’ that Romelu Lukaku was absent from Chelsea’s starting line-up for the Carabao Cup final as he felt the striker had the perfect match to disrupt Liverpool’s upline .
Thomas Tuchel instead opted for the attack of Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz and Mason Mount at Wembley, with Lukaku having to settle on the bench in the second game.
Lukaku played the full 90 minutes in the Blues’ 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last weekend, but was not used as a substitute against Lille in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
The Belgium international has struggled to live up to expectations after swapping Inter Milan for Stamford Bridge in a club-record £100m deal last summer and has publicly questioned his role him under Tuchel in December.
‘I was a bit surprised. It’s a final, it’s a big game. Yes, he’s not in form and Havertz is in form too, but they can play together,’ former Chelsea and Netherlands attacker Hasselbaink told Sky Sports.
‘But more because they are playing against Liverpool. Liverpool play with a tall formation.
If you remember the 2-2 scoreline, Liverpool struggled with the ball up in the back and had Lukaku’s power and speed in the back. That’s a problem. ‘
Asked if he would start for Lukaku, Hasselbaink replied: ‘Yes, I think so.
‘It’s Wembley, big pitch, big space. We know how Liverpool play and you need to attack Liverpool if you want to beat them.
‘You also need to confront them, but you need to attack them and make the four people in the back uncomfortable.
‘I’m not saying it can’t be done with Havertz. He’s a different type of player, he’ll come in more with the ball, he’ll be in the pocket more.
‘The other players will have to go around him [Lukaku] and go into the void, but I want to see the power of Lukaku.
‘Don’t get me wrong, he will still appear in the game just not from the start.’
Meanwhile, former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher says he understands Tuchel’s decision as Chelsea have played with more ‘flexibility’ in the absence of Lukaku.
“They were a bit more mobile and flexible than when Lukaku was there,” Carragher said.
‘Lukaku might be a little bit easier to make money than someone like Havertz if you’re Virgil van Dijk and people move into different positions.
‘Hopefully we get another great game.’
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