The enjoyment was pure for the house assist at Brentford on Friday night. For a lot of others, schadenfreude was the emotion as Arsenal had been bullied by the Bees. A thought occurred: if they will try this, what may Romelu Lukaku have in retailer for Ben White?
There are 97.5 million causes for Arsenal’s unconvincing defenders to worry Chelsea’s new striker forward of his second debut for the membership on the Emirates Stadium this Sunday.
Leaving apart his tempo, method, imaginative and prescient and intelligence, it’s his sheer bodily presence. Ivan Toney sought to “get beneath their pores and skin” however Lukaku may overwhelm them.
The temptation to see him as a blunt instrument to smash defences is apparent.
Maybe too apparent.
Thomas Tuchel’s feedback upfront of his arrival appeared to sign that intent.
“I believe, with the exit of Olivier Giroud, we may use a participant used to taking part in with their again to purpose, whose energy is to maintain possession from lengthy balls,” he defined.
It’s at this level that long-time Lukaku admirers start to squirm of their seats. He’s no siege weapon to be wheeled into place. Cease getting Lukaku unsuitable, they cry.
Others have executed so. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described him as “a goal man” when justifying Manchester United’s resolution to maneuver in one other course.
However that feels dismissive of his capability to run at defences, his prowess on the counter-attack. Inter had probably the most quick breaks of any aspect in Europe’s high 5 leagues final season.
Slicing in off the best wing is a energy, fluidity of motion central to his success. That’s the reason he flourished at Inter and why he wants greater than lengthy balls to showcase his sport.
Chelsea hit simply 8.6 per cent of their passes lengthy final season, solely Manchester Metropolis choosing that number of move much less usually. It isn’t their sport. The worry generally is that the temptation to alter is simply too nice when the choice is there, the results adverse.
So it was encouraging that Tuchel gave a way more nuanced response when requested about Lukaku straight upon the completion of his switch to Stamford Bridge.
“He likes to play bodily, he’s snug taking part in together with his again in the direction of the purpose,” he reiterated. “However he’s additionally very, very robust in utilizing his pace and tempo.
“Romelu has quite a lot of strengths. He’s robust within the air, he’ll give us a brand new energy after we cross from the aspect. We should not have to alter our type of play to make him shine.”
That feels essential. This isn’t about Lukaku remodeling Chelsea, a crew that received the Champions League in Could. That is about incremental enhancements to their sport.
That cross that Kai Havertz couldn’t fairly divert into the web? Lukaku can be there. That one-on-one that Timo Werner was not capable of end? Lukaku can be anticipated to transform.
All 24 of his Serie A objectives final season got here from inside the width of the six-yard field, none of them had been from greater than 20 yards out. He offers them that presence there now.
Chelsea had been the ninth highest scorers within the Premier League final season from open play, underperforming their anticipated objectives by greater than some other top-half crew. They ranked third for pictures from contained in the field however solely seventh for objectives from that zone.
They don’t want a lot.
Certainly, these 12 Premier League clear sheets since Tuchel arrived, three greater than some other crew within the nation, are a sign that – the five-goal aberration in opposition to West Brom apart – Chelsea have been rock strong and are near contending.
The problem is to keep away from repeats of the goalless attracts in opposition to Wolves, Leeds and Brighton. To make sure that there isn’t any alternatives for these 1-0 victories, seven already in all competitions since Tuchel’s first in February, to be surrendered by one mistake.
Lukaku can nudge the dial.
In fact, whereas a participant at his peak – Lukaku is 28 – needs to be a plug-and-play signing, Tuchel might want to do extra than simply drop him into this crew, he should forge partnerships. The reference to Lautaro Martinez was vital to his success in Italy.
Thankfully, Chelsea is wealthy with potential.
Werner may benefit from these wall passes, the drawing of males in the direction of Lukaku opening up the left channel for the German to use. Christian Pulisic will count on to do the identical.
Havertz and Mason Mount can run past. Hakim Ziyech might need to attend following his latest damage, however these angled deliveries from the best seem an apparent supply of objectives.
Maybe even Cesar Azpilicueta can be tempted to drop a couple of crosses from deep onto the striker’s head in a lot the identical approach that he as soon as did for Alvaro Morata.
Lukaku can have choices.
In fact, he’ll want a connection together with his coach, the supporters too. Jose Mourinho pressured the necessity for him to really feel cherished to carry out at his greatest.
Tuchel seems eager to place him on the coronary heart of every little thing. “He has a charisma, he is an efficient age, he’s a pacesetter. Hopefully he generally is a chief in our group,” he added.
Nevertheless Chelsea search to carry out the perfect in Lukaku, appreciating that he’s way more than a mere target-man is a begin. As Arsenal could possibly be about to search out out, that’s simply one of many methods through which he’s able to punishing Ben White and the remainder this weekend.
Watch Arsenal vs Chelsea stay on Sky Sports activities Premier League from 4pm on Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm