The first time around, Romelu Lukaku went 15 appearances without scoring a single competitive goal for Chelsea.
The second time around, it’s taken him 15 ... minutes.
The goal itself may have been a mere tap-in, just another carbon copy of a number of similar goals that helped Achraf Hakimi rack up double digits in assists last season at Inter Milan — and which have Reece James surely licking his lips in anticipation of the same — but of the 114 goals Lukaku has now scored in the Premier League, this one was the most meaningful yet!
“That was the best one for me, the best of the lot. You know how emotional it was for me. Obviously it was a tap-in, but the build-up was nice.”
Lukaku dominated Arsenal’s defence, easily handling the individual marking from Pablo Marí and not having many issues when Rob Holding tried to help out either. In fact, Lukaku almost got a second goal after beating the latter to the ball on a play during the second half, only to be stopped by Bernd Leno’s excellent reflex save.
While he was a bit shocked to see that header saved, and feels that Chelsea could have had a much more lopsided win at the Emirates already, Lukaku also wants the team to improve and build on this game for the season ahead, as any good winner would want.
“We played really well, we dominated. We could have scored more, but coming here with this performance is good. We have to continue like that.
“Now we have to keep working, keep building, keep getting stronger because the Premier League is very competitive. We are ready for the challenge and hopefully we can improve on this.”
It is always tough to talk about “completeness” in football. But this first game was a good indication of why Lukaku has become one of the few “complete strikers” in top level football.
As his former coach José Mourinho expertly said, playing in Italy under a manager such as Antonio Conte was the step Lukaku needed to take not just on the physical and technical level, but also on the mental side of things. The 28-year-old has returned with the sense of self-assurance and self-confidence that is needed to push himself to the highest level.
“[My performance against Arsenal was] dominant, I would say. [But] I try to improve every time. I have a long way to go.
“You want to work hard for the team, you want to win and score and create chances. It’s something I have learned and worked on really hard and keep working on it. This team is very talented, they are the European champions and obviously they want to keep building.
“I said I wanted to add something different to the team, and hopefully I did. It took about five minutes to understand the movements of my team-mates. The team adapted really well. I asked a lot of questions to the players and they helped me a lot and made my life really comfortable.
“I wasn’t stressed, I was very focused. There was one thing on my mind, just win. I am delighted for the club and the fans.”
-Romelu Lukaku; Source: Chelsea FC
One of many. So we hope.