Romelu Lukaku’s showing in the Arsenal victory turns out to be incredible

On Saturday, April 27, 2011, an 18-year-old Romelu Lukaku was introduced to Stamford Bridge faithful for the first time and came up with a short and uneventful cameo during a routine victory over Norwich City.

Almost exactly a decade later, Lukaku made his second Chelsea debut on Sunday and the circumstances could not be more contrasting. This time, the Belgian arrived as a global superstar, described as the last piece of the puzzle for Thomas Tuchel’s side to do a real Premier League title challenge.


On his debut! ?

? 0-1?

– Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 22, 2021

Expectations were high but Lukaku had no problem living up to the hype, which made Arsenal’s defense look even less competent than the Norwich fullback he met ten years earlier. No offense against Zak Whitbread, Leon Barnett and Premier League winner Richie de Laet intended.

Right from the distance, it was clear what Chelsea’s game pattern would be with Jorginho directing passes between the lines for Lukaku to take his back to the goal. This move pulled out the Gunners ‘narrow defense, and with Mason Mount and Kai Havertz occupying half the space, the Blues’ wingbacks had acres of space out.

This formula was followed to the letter for the visitors’ opening goal at the Emirates Stadium with Lukaku unleashing on Reece James before running into the space behind the Arsenal defender he created with his clever movement.

When James eventually delivered his cross, the Blues’ new number nine was the perfect place to hit home. It was a ruthlessly effective goal and Lukaku added cinematic style to the stage, with his mere presence made Pablo Mari tumble hopelessly to the grass.

The goal, which was scored just 15 minutes after his Chelsea return, set the tone for an incredible first half. He smelled blood in his one-sided fight with Mari and was constantly looking for the same outlet ball to his feet. He often got it too with the Brazilian powerless to prevent his opposite number from putting it down and spinning in behind.

Although not directly involved in Chelsea’s second goal, Arsenal’s obsession with denying Lukaku the ball meant they defended narrowly enough for James to slip into the box and finish Mason Mount’s cross emphatically at the back post.

He was just as devastating after the break as well, only being denied a deserved second goal by a miraculous reflex save by Leno near the end. He should also have had an assist, as his sweet pass to Kai Havertz did not get the goal it deserved from the German.

All this points to the conclusion that Lukaku will be everything that Chelsea expected and more this season. The possibilities really seem endless. The balance between Mount dropped a little deeper in the crossing positions while Havertz stayed higher was effective against Arsenal, but there is no forward in Thomas Tuchel’s squad who can not take advantage of Lukaku’s arrival.

Timo Werner will salivate for the opportunity to run into the space created by Lukaku, while Hakim Ziyech now has the perfect receiver for his inch perfect balls in the box. Callum Hudson-Odoi will also be happy to both create and be created for this season.

Tuchel will be very pleased with Lukaku’s debut / Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

Of course, all this must come with the proviso that the season is only two games old. However, it is impossible not to get excited about Lukaku’s almost perfect re-introduction to life in the Premier League.

It was a statement and the Blues must now – if they were not already – be considered favorites alongside Manchester City for the title.

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