Romelu Lukaku scored a goal on his second debut for Chelsea as the Blues’ new big money import blitzed London rivals Arsenal with an all-action performance in a 2-0 win, and Didier Drobga was more than impressed in what he saw.
It may have taken a while but a decade after he first joined the club, Belgian star Lukaku finally has his first goal for Chelsea. Of course, much (or most) of those intervening years were spent with the likes of West Brom, Everton, Manchester United and Inter Milan but just moments into his first appearance for Thomas Tuchel’s European champions, it looked as though he had never left.
If previous iterations of the powerful Lukaku minimized his talents into just that of an aggressive, brutish center forward who relies more on brawn than brain, well, think again.
Lukaku 2.0, as Sky Sports’ Gary Neville fawned, has returned to England as a ‘complete’ striker, capable of bullying and harassing opponents but also a more intelligent playmaker, aware of when to fill gaps or when to draw defenders away to allow space for his new teammates – and both of these abilities were evident in Chelsea’s goals at the Emirates.
Romelu Lukaku vs Arsenal:- 1 goal – 43 touches – 7 shots – 20 accurate passes – 95% pass success – 3 chances created – 68 shot accuracy – 2 shots on target – 8 duels won – 4 Aerials won Impressive blue debut 💙 pic.twitter.com/q6egp8Axc0
— Bilal (@jorgirole) August 22, 2021
114 – Romelu Lukaku has scored his 114th Premier League goal, overtaking Ian Wright to become the competition’s 20th highest scoring player. Lukaku has also become the eighth non-Englishman to score 50+ goals both home and away in the competition. Romaissance. pic.twitter.com/moWMFEGpfW
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 22, 2021
1 – Romelu Lukaku has scored his first goal for Chelsea in his 16th appearance for the club, nine years and 360 days after initially making his debut for the Blues in August 2011. Awaited. pic.twitter.com/mFEHujR2Fh
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 22, 2021
The first, which came just a quarter of an hour into his (second) debut, saw Lukaku’s gut-bursting run into the box rewarded with a tap-in from a Reece James cross, with more than one Arsenal defender left prone on the turf and trailing in the Belgian’s wake.
The second goal followed 20 minutes later, and again Lukaku was involved. By now he had been rightfully signposted as Chelsea’s danger man so when he moved to receive a wide ball from Marcos Alonso outside of the penalty box, Lukaku instead fooled the Arsenal backline and let the ball bypass him towards Mason Mount, who subsequently fed Reece James to power the ball in the side netting from inside the area.
Lukaku could have had another in the second half but Arsenal goalkeeper showed impressive reactions to turn his point-blank header onto the crossbar when it looked as if the floodgates may open.
The score, however, stayed as it was at half-time but Lukaku’s impact on the game was hailed by many online – perhaps most notably Didier Drogba.
The Ivorian icon, who is considered to be among Chelsea’s finest ever strikers, was idolized by a young Lukaku growing up in Belgium – with the then-teenage Lukaku saying that modelled his game on Drogba’s when he first moved to Stamford Bridge as an 18-year-old.
Drogba is known for having terrorized an Arsenal defence or two in his time at Chelsea, and took to Twitter to hail the impact of the player who some people might consider his protege.
“Arsenal vs. Chelsea,” wrote Drogba on Twitter. “Same old story.”
Lukaku seemed to agree in his own post-match comments when summed up his Man of the Match performance.
“Dominant, I would say. I try to improve every time, I have a long way to go but today was good to win. We have to win and keep going, the Premier League is a very competitive league,” he said.
“I try, I try. At the end of the day, you want work hard for the team, score and create chances. I have worked on that and this team is very talented. They are the European champions and they want to keep building and I want to keep winning. We have to keep fighting and keep delivering performances like this.
“You saw a lot, not only from me but he team adapted really well and they made life very comfortable for me and I was not stressed coming into the game. I only had one thing on my mind, winning the game and I am delighted for the club and fans.
“It is good to start like this, I worked hard throughout the week, we knew wit was a big game and we did well. As an individual, I want to help the team and I want to continue doing that.”
And Lukaku’s performance was also enough to wow more than a few football fans on social media, many of whom hailed the Belgian superstar for his immediate impact on the club just days after completing a club record £97.5 million transfer.
If you want to watch the PERFECT ST performance then look no further than that Lukaku today, hold up play was an absolute joke and I have no doubts he will score tons of goals, the fans love him, Antonio Conte has turned him into a complete striker 💙 pic.twitter.com/NMuwOTPQsI
— Pys (@CFCPys) August 22, 2021
Lukaku is literally unplayable… ‘Mauling them’ says Gary Neville!
— Simon Phillips (@siphillipssport) August 22, 2021
Just think of it like this. Lukaku has been at Chelsea for only a week and has had barely any time to adjust to new teammates, new system, new manager etc. Despite all that, he put in a top class performance, getting himself a goal and a MOTM award… pic.twitter.com/ML2j0wIzv4
— FutbolChelsea ⭐⭐ (@FutbolCheIsea) August 22, 2021
“If you want to watch the PERFECT performance then look no further than that Lukaku today, hold up play was an absolute joke and I have no doubts he will score tons of goals, the fans love him, Antonio Conte has turned him into a complete striker,” one fan wrote on social media.
“Lukaku is literally unplayable,” noted another.
“Just think of it like this. Lukaku has been at Chelsea for only a week and has had barely any time to adjust to new teammates, new system, new manager etc. Despite all that, he put in a top class performance, getting himself a goal and a MOTM award,” said a third.
The vanquishing of London rivals Arsenal makes it two wins from two for Thomas Tuchel’s men on the young season. Next up? An away trip to Anfield next Saturday afternoon which now presents the mouthwatering proposition of Romelu Lukaku vs. Virgil van Dijk in a clash of two teams with early Premier League title aspirations.