English Premiership

The time is right for Lukaku - Mourinho

2017-09-16 12:23
Romelu Lukaku (AP)

London - Jose Mourinho backed Romelu Lukaku to shine against his former club as early Premier League pace-setters Manchester United host Everton at Old Trafford on Sunday.

United's league record had been perfect until they were held to a 2-2 draw at Stoke last Saturday, although the disappointment of conceding twice was mitigated by the impressive scoring form of Lukaku and Marcus Rashford.

Now 24 and with six years of Premier League experience behind him, Lukaku is now ready to succeed at the top level according to his manager, unlike in 2011 when he joined Chelsea from Anderlecht.

"I think Romelu has come here at the right moment," Mourinho said. "He is a good age. He has a good number of years of experience with different clubs in the Premier League. He is clearly a player who has adapted to the Premier League.

"He has good friends already in the dressing room and has had an easy integration into our group. The way the team is trying to play has good relation to his qualities as a player. So I think he has come at the right moment of his career."

Lukaku's strong start to life at Old Trafford, he has six goals in six games for United, will help to offset the absence of France midfielder Paul Pogba, who may be out for several weeks.

Pogba's hamstring injury, sustained in the early stages of Tuesday's 3-0 Champions League victory over Basel, will certainly keep him out of Sunday's match, and there is no guarantee that he will be available for France's decisive World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Belarus in October.

It is a significant setback for United, who started the weekend on top of the Premier League after collecting 10 points from their opening four matches.

Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are set to return in central defence, having missed the win over Basel through suspension, while Antonio Valencia should be restored at right-back, having made way on Tuesday as Ashley Young played for the first time since recovering from a summer operation on a hamstring problem.

Wayne Rooney's return to Goodison Park from United - replacing Lukaku - has not gone as well as the Belgian's move despite scoring in his first two league matches this season.

The Toffees have not won in five matches in all competitions before Sunday's clash following Thursday's 3-0 drubbing by Atalanta in the Europa League.

Everton manager Ronald Koeman revealed he would hold a meeting with his senior players to try to get their season back on track before the trip to Old Trafford.

Koeman planned to get Rooney, Leighton Baines and Ashley Williams, among others, together at their Finch Farm training base in the hope of getting a reaction against United.

"I will have a meeting with most of the players, with the key players," Koeman said.

"It's time for the experienced players to stand up. I am worried about what I saw against Atalanta. It was a wake-up call.

"I saw the team with a lot of doubts. One of our strengths of last season is we had a good defensive organisation and we have lost our strength."

Koeman, who has no fresh injury concerns before the match, warned that Lukaku could tear his team apart if they do not improve dramatically at Old Trafford.

"We know him really well but he's one of the best strikers," said the Dutchman.

"I said several times last season he is a real finisher. I know how we have to defend against him.

"There are a lot of qualities. He is dangerous in the box and fast and strong. If we are defending how we defend in the last few games it will be his afternoon."


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Saturday, 17 March 2018
Burnley v Chelsea, Turf Moor 14:30
Leicester City v Arsenal, King Power Stadium 17:00
Swansea City v Southampton, Liberty Stadium 17:00
Sunday, 18 March 2018
West Ham United v Manchester United, London Stadium 15:30
Manchester City v Brighton & Hove Albion, Etihad Stadium 18:00
Saturday, 31 March 2018
Crystal Palace v Liverpool, Selhurst Park 13:30
West Ham United v Southampton, London Stadium 16:00
Manchester United v Swansea City, Old Trafford 16:00
Newcastle United v Huddersfield Town, St. James' Park 16:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Leicester City, The American Express Community Stadium 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Burnley, The Hawthorns 16:00
Watford v AFC Bournemouth, Vicarage Road Stadium 16:00
Everton v Manchester City, Goodison Park 18:30
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2017/18 season?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.