Improved Romelu Lukaku is making Chelsea in title contenders
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Romelu Lukaku’s career has been a roller-coaster ride. Ten years ago, he joined Chelsea for the first time and was hailed as “the next Drogba”.
His first stint with the Blues did not go according to plan as he failed to score a single Premier League goal for the club from 10 appearances and they subsequently deemed him surplus to requirements in 2014 and sold him to Everton.
After a successful three-year spell with the Toffees that saw him score more than 50 Premier League goals, Lukaku ended up earning a move to Manchester United in 2017. He did not help guide the Red Devils back to their glory days and had people questioning whether he was “overrated” by the time he departed Old Trafford to join Inter Milan in 2019.
It was at Inter and under the guidance of Antonio Conte that Lukaku managed to find his best self. He managed 24 Serie A goals last season to fire the Nerrazzuri to their first Italian top-flight title since 2010.
His form from last season persuaded Chelsea to re-sign him and he is seen as the piece to the jigsaw puzzle that can help Thomas Tuchel’s side challenge for their first Premier League title since 2017.
Last weekend, Lukaku made his second Chelsea debut with an improved physique from the last time that he was in England and quickly made his presence felt by scoring the Blues’ opener in their 2-0 win over London rivals Arsenal.
After succeeding Frank Lampard as Chelsea boss in January, Tuchel made an immediate impact at the club by leading it to the Champions League title last season. The only area in which the Blues were short of quality was upfront, and that probably prevented them from challenging for the Premiership title.
Tammy Abraham, who has since joined AS Roma, managed just six Premier League goals last season while Timo Werner scored the same number in his first-ever in the English top-flight. These represent poor numbers for a striker playing at a club like Chelsea.
The addition of Lukaku to the Blues side also aided the game of Chelsea’s up-and-coming star Reece James. It was evident last weekend that as the Gunners defence had to focus their efforts on containing Lukaku, space was freed up for James who had one of the best games of his career so far and scored the second for Tuchel’s side.
While some feel that Lukaku’s arrival will jeopardise Werner’s hopes of winning over the Chelsea faithful, it may actually be the opposite.
It might be worthwhile for Tuchel to consider deploying a second striker and Werner will be relishing the prospect of getting into action alongside Lukaku and taking advantage of the space that has been created by his new team-mate.
If Lukaku can replicate the same form he showed for Inter last season, Chelsea may well be Premier League title candidates this season.