This past weekend’s Premier League was noteworthy for a whole host of reasons.
Crystal Palace upset early-season pacesetters Tottenham 3-0 at Selhurst Park, Manchester City edged past Leicester – not to mention Arsenal finally scoring a league goal!
The headlines, though, were dominated by the return of a certain five-time Ballon d’Or winner to the English top-flight. Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a brace on his second debut for Manchester United in their 4-1 demolition of Newcastle, much to the delight of an adoring Old Trafford crowd.
Not to be outdone in the goalscoring stakes, however, Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku helped himself to a pair of goals in his side’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa a few hours later.
BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks has now named his Team of The Week covering the most recent round of fixtures in the Premier League, which inevitably includes both Ronaldo and Lukaku as part of a front three – alongside Wilfried Zaha.
The 63-year-old Crooks, who represented Manchester United briefly during his own playing career, is in no doubt as to who he would side with if he was forced to make a straight choice between the Portuguese and Belgian superstars.
“If I had to make a choice of playing Ronaldo or Lukaku at centre-forward there would be no contest. It would be Lukaku every time,” Crooks wrote in his column. “Granted Ronaldo is 36. However, there is a touch of irony in the fact that Lukaku used to play for United and scored some magnificent goals but was never loved by their fans and certainly not in the way Ronaldo is.
“It will also be interesting to see who scores more goals, although I put my money on Lukaku. His two against Aston Villa were the clearest indication I have seen of how the Belgian striker’s game has developed. His hold-up play against Liverpool was impressive but his ability to run away from the ball and trust the pass was outstanding. Lukaku is now the real deal.”
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Lukaku has clearly developed his own game significantly since departing United for Inter Milan in 2019. His 64 goals in 95 games at the San Siro persuaded Chelsea to part with in excess of £100 million to bring him back to Stamford Bridge.
With that said, Ronaldo still finished five goals ahead of Lukaku in Serie A last season, notching 29 goals at Juventus, compared to Lukaku’s 24 for Inter. Whether Crooks is correct in favouring the Belgian so strongly is something we will find out as the season unfolds.
However, for the thousands of United fans that packed Old Trafford for the return of CR7 on Saturday afternoon, there can be little doubt as to who they would prefer to lead the line.
Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week in full
Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Luke Shaw (Man Utd)
Midfielders: Bernardo Silva (Man City), Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd), Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool)
Forwards: Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea), Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd)
Paul Pogba STAYING! Manchester United News (Via The Football Terrace)