LONDON, Aug 23 — Romelu Lukaku described his second Chelsea debut as “dominant” after scoring his first Premier League goal for the Blues as the European champions outclassed Arsenal 2-0 on Sunday.
The Belgian has returned to Stamford Bridge for a club record £97 million (RM559.4 million) as the missing piece of a proven goalscorer to turn the Champions League winners into English champions.
Thomas Tuchel’s men have made a formidable start towards that aim with six points, five goals scored and none conceded from their opening two games of the Premier League season.
Arsenal, by contrast, have yet to register a point or score a goal as the gulf between Mikel Arteta’s men and the title contenders was exposed.
“I would say, dominant,” said Lukaku on his performance. “We knew this was a big, big game for us, everybody was watching us, and we did well.
“As an individual, I tried to help the team. I said that I wanted to add something different to the team, hopefully I did and I want to keep doing that.”
Arsenal’s miserable start to the season continued even before kick-off with £50 million signing Ben White becoming the fifth positive case for coronavirus among Arteta’s squad in the past 10 days.
And things could get even worse for the Spanish coach with a trip to defending champions Manchester City next weekend before an international break.
“I think that’s why they are the Champions League winners. They demand so much to match that level over 90 minutes,” said Arteta.
“This is one of the difficult moments you have to go through. The circumstances are really difficult, but feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t help. You have to face the criticism which is going to come.”
‘You cannot start better’
Arsenal’s signings of Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale this week took their spending in the transfer window above £130 million despite a fifth season without Champions League football.
But whereas Chelsea needed to fill just one position to complete a squad already stacked with quality, Arsenal appear to be starting from scratch.
A bright start in front of the first full house at the Emirates for 17 months quickly dissipated once Chelsea found their rhythm and began to play to Lukaku’s strengths.
The former Inter Milan striker received the ball with his back to goal on 15 minutes, shrugged off Pablo Mari as the ball was worked to Reece James on the right and then stayed onside to tap home his 114th Premier League goal for four different clubs.
“He gives something to our game we did not have,” said Tuchel of his new signing. ”You cannot start better and we have to improve from here.”
Lukaku should have been given another on a plate moments later when James instead picked out Mason Mount, whose shot was deflected behind.
But Arsenal did not learn their lesson from the huge space being afforded to James on the right.
Mount picked out his England teammate 10 minutes before half-time and James thrashed a brilliant finish high past Bernd Leno.
James, though, was lucky just before the break when his push on Bukayo Saka as he burst into the box went unpunished by both referee Paul Tierney and VAR.
Rob Holding should have halved Arsenal’s deficit after the break when the centre-back headed wide from close range.
At the other end Leno also did his case to hold off Ramsdale as number one no harm with an incredible save to deny Lukaku a debut double as he turned a bullet header onto the crossbar.
Lukaku turned away in disbelief as he watched the replay on a big screen, but his presence has blown away any lasting doubts over Chelsea’s ability to challenge City in the title race this season. — AFP