Chelsea: Romelu Lukaku is the final piece of the puzzle for title push

Chelsea's Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Chelsea's Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images) /

Chelsea fans love it when the Blues beat Arsenal. That’s what they did on Sunday as Thomas Tuchel’s side outclassed Mikel Arteta’s Gunners at the Emirates Stadium.

The spotlight also shown on one man: Romelu Lukaku.

Seven years after leaving Chelsea for Everton on a permanent transfer, the Belgian striker is back in West London. The match against Arsenal was his second debut with the club.

It didn’t take him long to make an impact as he scored the first of two goals in the 15th minute. He made no mistake in getting open for Reece James’s pass and buried it with ease.

Throughout the match, Lukaku made life very difficult for the Arsenal defenders. He was in the right places to receive a pass and when he had the ball he bullied his way through them.

The Chelsea fans at the Emirates were already chanting his name.

Lukaku was asked to describe his performance against Arsenal with one word.

“Dominant,” responded the 28-year-old striker.

“I wanted to add something different to the team and hopefully I did,” he said. “The team adapted really well. They helped me a lot. They made life very comfortable for me. So I wasn’t stressed when I came into the game. I was very focused.”

Thomas Tuchel was very impressed with Lukaku’s performance.

“Romelu’s a very smart guy and a very democratic leader,” said the Chelsea head coach. “I certainly think that nobody likes to play against him, everyone is aware of his physicality and his link-up play and ability to attack the space. He gives another dimension to our game.”

It has been a long and tough journey for Lukaku. Signed by Chelsea from Anderlecht for ten million pounds in 2011, Lukaku got hardly any playing time in his first spell at Chelsea. He even refused to hold the Champions League trophy after the Blues beat Bayern Munich in their own stadium on penalties.

“I don’t like people talking to me about the Champions League. ” said Lukaku a few weeks after that famous night in Munich. “It wasn’t me, but my team that won.”

Lukaku was mostly remembered for missing the decisive penalty in the 2013 Super Cup against Bayern Munich in his first Chelsea stint. He would be loaned to West Brom and later Everton. (Which later became permanent.)

He blossomed as a world class striker with Everton before moving to Manchester United in 2017 (almost coming back to Chelsea). While he did score some goals, Lukaku became a the subject of memes on social media thanks to his first touch and ball control.

In 2019, he left England for Italy where he became unstoppable with Inter Milan under Antonio Conte and helped Inter win the Scudetto and bring an end to Juventus’ nine year reign. There, he also improved his first touch and ball control.

Now that Belgium’s all-time leading goal scorer is back with Chelsea, he has a second chance to play for the club he grew up supporting and some unfinished business to take care of.

Tuchel’s Chelsea is already a strong one. They got a superb goalkeeper, stable defenders, and a good midfield. They also got some strong squad depth. Tuchel wanted a striker this summer and Marina Granovskaia brought him Lukaku.

As seen already against Arsenal, Lukaku is a perfect fit in Tuchel’s side. His tactics consist of slow build up attacking play and getting the defenders caught off guard. Lukaku is perfect in that role.

With N’Golo Kante and Jorginho holding the fort in the midfield and players like Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic driving up the playmaking, Lukaku would lead the attack with his pace and ability to be in the right areas to receive passes.

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It’s only one game but if Lukaku continues to do what he does best, the Premier League trophy could be heading back to Stamford Bridge for the first time in five seasons. Watch out, Premier League.