Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has warned the rest of the Premier League that Romelu Lukaku’s love affair with the club has only just begun after the striker scored against Arsenal to mark his second debut with a win.
Lukaku rejoined the Blues last week and netted his first goal for the club just 15 minutes into a 2-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium.
Reece James teed up the Belgium striker to turn home from close range, before adding the second himself 10 minutes before half-time.
The win was more commanding than the scoreline suggests. Lukaku bullied the Arsenal defence for much of the afternoon and was denied a second goal by a superb Bernd Leno save from a second-half header.
“It was a very good start,” Tuchel said of Lukaku’s second coming at Stamford Bridge.
“Of course that is the best thing when your striker scores straight away an important goal – but on top of it he linked up very well with Mason Mount and Kai Havertz and gave something to our game.
“I certainly think that nobody likes to play against him, everyone is aware of his physicality and his link-up play and ability to attack the space. He gives another dimension to our game.
“It has only just begun. So it is not the time now for too much praise or celebration, we keep on going.
“He is a Chelsea fan and it was his dream to make it at the club, we felt that from day one.”
Tuchel was pleased with the overall performance from his side but still felt there could have been improvements as they made it two wins from two at the start of the new season.
“It never felt comfortable to me, I have to say. It would have felt more comfortable if we were able to score the third one,” he added.
“Momentum can shift any time but I think we deserved to win and I felt we still had a little bit of heavy legs in the first half.
“We got a bit sloppy with some easy ball losses, so there were a few moments where it was not so confident.
“It is necessary to accept this because we come from a pretty unique pre-season, so putting all this together, I am happy with how we played as a team, we attack and defend together.”
For Arsenal, this was a second poor performance in a row and came on the back of a loss at newly-promoted Brentford on the opening day of the campaign.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Willian and Alex Runarsson all missed that game due to Covid, with only Aubameyang fit enough to return to the bench on Sunday.
They then lost Ben White on the eve of the game as another player tested positive for Covid, with injuries also taking a toll on Mikel Arteta’s squad.
“I certainly saw a team that in the second half kept trying and never gave up,” the Spaniard said of his side.
“Their attitude was exceptional. Something that is clear is that they never game up, the crowd pushed them and we tried right until the end.”
While praising the reaction of the Arsenal fans, the majority of home supporters jeered the team off at both half-time and full-time – although Arteta admitted he could not blame them for the response.
“I saw a lot of excitement from them at the beginning,” he said.
“They really tried to push the team and obviously when you are 2-0 down at half-time nobody is going to be happy.
“We would be fooling ourselves if, (at) a club with this history, anybody is going to be happy at half-time with that.
“But in the second half you saw a different reaction. Every time the team was giving something they were reacting positively towards them.
“Even the players were saying they believe that they were really good with them and at the end they have to show this frustration.”