Lukaku emulates Chelsea hero Drogba and places sorry Arsenal to the sword

“Dream? I’m not dreaming. At some point I’ll play right here, you’ll see.”

One can not have escaped the viral clip shared by former membership Anderlecht, as he accomplished his £97.5million switch, of Romelu Lukaku visiting Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge as a baby.

In fact, Lukaku stored that promise in 2011 when he changed Fernando Torres for the ultimate seven minutes of a 3-1 house win over Norwich Metropolis. That was amongst eight outings at Stamford Bridge in Chelsea blue, however few might blame the ahead for feeling just a little unfulfilled.

One of many world’s finest strikers left the membership he supported as a boy after 15 video games, 466 minutes, 19 pictures and 0 targets.

There was extra to Lukaku’s want to prove for Chelsea than the badge on the chest, although; he needed to observe within the footsteps of Didier Drogba, the Blues legend whose shirt he wore in that Anderlecht clip.

That second Stamford Bridge bow continues to be to return, however Lukaku wanted solely quarter-hour of his Chelsea return to emulate Drogba.

Of the 164 targets Drogba scored as a Chelsea participant, 13 got here towards Arsenal – 4 greater than he mustered towards every other aspect. There have been braces in triumphs within the 2005 Group Defend and 2007 EFL Cup last, in addition to a winner within the 2009 FA Cup semi-final, on prime of his eight Premier League strikes.

Drogba bullied Arsenal; subsequently on Sunday, decided this time to take his likelihood at Chelsea, so did Lukaku.

9 years and 360 days after that debut towards Norwich, Lukaku made up for misplaced time with an opener that displayed lots of the abilities that look set to make Chelsea real challengers for the Premier League title.

The 28-year-old was allowed to face the purpose at Inter way more typically than throughout an in the end irritating spell at Manchester United, carrying the ball 3,040 metres in Serie A final season, however he additionally continued to hyperlink the play, concerned in 34 goal-ending open play sequences. He was the beneficiary this time.

Mateo Kovacic fired a move into Lukaku’s toes 30 yards from purpose and he held on to the ball simply lengthy sufficient to have 4 Arsenal gamers round him by the point he offloaded it again to the previous Actual Madrid midfielder.

Thomas Tuchel had spoken of how Chelsea needed a substitute for Olivier Giroud with “the type of profile who likes to play along with his again to purpose, who likes to carry up balls, who creates area for Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic, who is able to combat bodily with defenders”. It was Reece James, relatively than Werner, Havertz or Pulisic, who discovered himself on their own because of Lukaku’s distraction.

When Kovacic snapped a move exterior to James, the race was on within the center and there was solely going to be one winner. After Arsenal’s terrible defeat at Brentford, there had been debate about how Ben White would cope with Lukaku’s bodily presence. With White laid low by COVID-19, it was Pablo Mari who was swatted apart by Lukaku to go away a easy end.

Arsenal sought to be taught their lesson, difficult Lukaku as rapidly as attainable thereafter, however even that went towards them. Granit Xhaka’s lunge on Lukaku 10 minutes earlier than half-time noticed the ball run as a substitute for Mount, who discovered James unmarked once more to attain himself.

As with Drogba, Arsenal by no means appeared comfy trying to comprise Lukaku, who didn’t add to his early purpose however created three probabilities, contested 15 duels, received two fouls and counted a 77th-minute header that Bernd Leno instinctively touched onto the crossbar amongst eight efforts.

The final Chelsea ahead to have seven or extra pictures towards Arsenal in a league encounter was, in fact, Drogba (in 2006).

Tuchel has spoken at size about how Lukaku’s signing can profit Werner. Up first was a lesson from the sidelines, nonetheless, with the much-maligned Germany attacker dropped for the brand new man and solely launched within the last minute of the 90, offering only a fleeting glimpse of a fearsome entrance two.

For Arsenal, in the meantime, the scant positives largely got here from the identical males as final season – Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Kieran Tierney, not less than in an attacking sense earlier than his harm – after they shocked Chelsea 3-1 on Boxing Day, having entered the sport fifteenth within the desk and winless in seven.

That end result impressed a vastly improved run of type, however their progress pales subsequent to Chelsea’s beneath Tuchel. Their signings don’t examine to Lukaku both.

“We are attempting to convey the gamers that we are able to afford, that on this second can assist us to attain what we wish,” Mikel Arteta mentioned this week, requested if Arsenal have been working on a “decrease degree”. “Chelsea would have a distinct plan,” he added.

The purpose was Lukaku’s fourth towards Arsenal, however he’ll again himself so as to add to that whole based mostly on the obvious trajectory of the 2 groups.

Solely two years older than Drogba was when he arrived in England, there’s loads of time to shut on his idol’s tally in a fixture he dominated.

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