High expectations were laid on Romelu Lukaku’s return to Chelsea. From the narrative power of the prodigal son returning home to the transfer fee required to take the Belgian striker out of Inter Milan, there was no way out of it.
It is way too soon to make any definitive assessment of Lukaku’s second spell at the Bridge. But the early months of his five-year contract were far from optimal, with injuries and COVID-19 ruining the feel good story of his comeback.
Still, there is a lot of time for the record to be corrected. Lukaku began this almost on his own against Aston Villa, one of his favourite targets in his career, by scoring a goal and earning a penalty to help put Chelsea back on the winning track while staking a claim for a prompt return to the starting lineup from this point forward.
“I think I needed a performance like this. It’s been difficult getting back in.
“Every footballer wants to be on the pitch, but I kept working hard. It was good for us to win and, for myself personally, I’m happy with my performance and I have to push on.”
Lukaku’s lack of aerial ability given his height can be very frustrating at times. But his goal yesterday, after a great cross delivered by Callum Hudson-Odoi, showed he can compensate this weakness of his with great movement in the box.
“The goal was just movement. For balls like crosses and stuff, throughout the years my movement in the box has gotten better. I try to be less static, I try to be on the move all the time. The cross was a brilliant cross and I just came across him.”
As for the penalty play, it was an almost perfect showcase of the player he became after two years of playing under former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte at Giuseppe Meazza. A combination of strength, speed and even technique that could only be stopped by a penalty foul from Ezri Konsa in the final minutes of the match.
“For the penalty, that’s my preferred action, running into space and using my speed and my power. The defender made contact and then Jorgi finished it off for us.”
Chelsea now sit at third place in the Premier League table, behind Manchester City and Liverpool who have overtaken the Blues since the beginning of our slump in form. Some prefer leading the race and never looking back. Others prefer the thrill of the chase, with the 3-1 win over the Villans showing the Blues cannot be counted out of the title challenge so soon.
“We are the hunters now. It’s clear that the last results for us were not the best and now we have to chase. We had to do a job, we had to win the game.
“It was not easy for us but in the end our quality came through and we won the game. Now we need to keep pushing on. We have to make sure that we treat every game like a final, win, and that’s it.”
-Romelu Lukaku; Source: Chelsea FC