Romelu Lukaku wasted no time in opening his Chelsea goalscoring account on his (second) debut for the club, finding the back of the net on fifteen minutes at the Emirates and setting the Blues on our way to a fairly straightforward 2-0 victory over Arsenal. While technically this was Lukaku’s 16th competitive appearance in Chelsea colors, it was match No.1 for Lukaku Mk.II, and this version of Lukaku always scores on his debuts — having done so at West Brom, Everton, Manchester United, and Inter Milan as well.
Beyond the psychological boost of getting that first goal out of the way quickly, the goal served as a prime example of what a top level striker can do for a team. Lukaku started the move by offering to receive a pass, holding up the ball, and bringing the rest of the team into play, and finished the move by making a strong well-timed run, shaking off his defender, and putting the ball into the back of the net from Reece James’ cross. It sounds easy, and he made it look easy, but if he can continue doing so consistently, he will be adding something that’s been missing from the team for a long time.
Oh, and this was just his first game. He’s been here all of four days.
“It was a very good start. Of course, it’s the best thing when your striker scores straight away an important goal to give us the lead [but also] he was involved and that was good to see.
“[He] is a very open, smart and friendly person. So it was easy for him to connect with everybody. They like to play with each other and this is important because he gives us more opportunities. At the same time, we have to work on the details and keep on going because this was day one for him now and there’s a lot more to come.”
Those details will presumably prevent too many wasted chances (familiar story, that), such as generating 22 shots and over 3.0 xG but scoring only twice. Obviously, it’s early days, and the chemistry and the understanding is just starting to develop.
“He linked up very well with Mason Mount and Kai Havertz and gave something to our game that we can play directly to the front line. He was also dangerous throughout the game because he’s always dangerous on counter-attacks and we brought him into the game very well already. So now it’s about details [to] continue and improve.”
“I think his profile gives us something we did not have so much. He has some depth in his game and we can overcome pressing with long balls. If we are close to the box, we can also play into him when there are defenders in his back because he is a very physical player. But we don’t lose our threat on counterattacks because he likes to run into open spaces. [...] His physicality, strength, link play and ability to attack the space, he gives us another dimension.
“It’s our job not to lose our strength: the work-rate, team effort, and intensity against the ball. We have to bring everything together.”
And speaking of bringing everything together, Lukaku will be expected to not just perform in terms of goals and assists, but also to perform in terms of leadership, responsibility, and attitude. Be the big man for the big occasion, if you will.
“It’s not only about the qualities and the skills from Romelu, it’s the package that makes it so promising for us. It’s his age, experience, that he’s a Chelsea fan whose dream was to make it at the club. This is what we felt from day one from him.
“He has this personality and he grew this personality at the clubs he played. He has played for big clubs and has this trust in himself. I hope he takes the pressure off our young guys’ shoulders.
“This was the first game played and we have a lot more to do. It’s only just begun. It’s not the time now for too much praise or celebration. We keep on going at the start of the season.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
So far, so good. Time to keep it going.