Romelu Lukaku made an instant impact upon his return to Chelsea as the Blues’ 2-0 win over Arsenal ensured the Gunners’ poor start to the season continued.
Both sides headed into contest off the back of contrasting opening fixtures; Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 3-0 while Arsenal lost 2-0 to Brentford. Following on from that defeat, the talk throughout the week was of how much trouble Lukaku could cause Mikel Arteta’s side’s defence.
And Chelsea’s new, £97.5million signing from Inter delivered. He scored on his second debut for the club inside 15 minutes, before Reece James – who had supplied the Belgian -made it 2-0.
In the second half, Arsenal performed better but Chelsea managed the game well and finished with a couple of chances, but no further goals.
Arsenal looked to press high and play on the transition, but the visitors – led by Jorginho – looked to use their possession.
Despite Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka looking dangerous for the hosts, it only took 15 minutes for Lukaku to properly announce himself as a Chelsea player.
In a trademark Lukaku move, the striker held the ball up and dragged the defenders out. From there, he bullied his way back into the box – sending Pablo Mari to the floor – and tapped home James’ cross.
England international James then made it 2-0 with a finish of his own. Supplied by Mason Mount, the right-back took a touch on the right side of the box before thumping home.
Arsenal did have chances of their own, but scuppered each one. Albert Sambi Lokonga fired over from long range, while Saka’s poor touch allowed Cesar Azpilicueta to deny him a shooting opportunity.
Saka also had a penalty shout after a clash with James, but referee Paul Tierney waved it away.
Following a slow start to the second half from both sides, Arsenal woke up and put pressure on Chelsea.
Arsenal pressurise Chelsea
Rob Holding fired a free header just wide after being set up by Pablo Mari.
Shortly after, substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang almost got in but Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy sprung out to clear.
Azpilicueta then had to clear again to deny Emile Smith Rowe, who was just about to shoot.
Chelsea eventually got their best chance of the second half after 77 minutes. However, Bernd Leno pulled off a fantastic save to deny Lukaku’s close-range header.
They then restored their dominance, Leno saving another Kai Havertz shot.
Chelsea’s three points continues their strong start. The result also gives them an exciting taste of what Lukaku can do in Thomas Tuchel’s team.
For Arsenal, two defeats, no goals and a minus four goal difference means next week’s trip to Manchester City becomes more crucial.