22nd August, 2021
It was the perfect start to life as a Chelsea player again for Romelu Lukaku as his predatory early finish set Thomas Tuchel’s men to a comfortable victory at Arsenal.
Lukaku started and finished a sublime Blues move in the 15th minute, turning home Reece James’s centre after bullying the Gunners defence to create the space for himself.
Chelsea continued to menace, James, in particular, was a constant threat down the right, and it was him who doubled the lead shortly after the half-hour.
Reece controlled a Mason Mount pass and emphatically fired past Bernd Leno.
In response, Arsenal occasionally threatened throught the match and when they do Edouard Mendy was up to the task.
He neutralised threats from Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, while Rob Holding missed Arsenal’s best chance with a header from six yards out.
In truth, a comeback never looked likely for Arsenal.
In fact, Lukaku should have done more damage. He came closest, seeing a header somehow tipped onto the bar by Leno.
However, the Belgian’s second Chelsea debut was one to remember, with a goal and three points against a local rival.
He was also well accepted by the fans who chanted his name at regular intervals.
Lukaku was one of three changes Thomas Tuchel made to his starting line-up, with Kai Havertz and James handed their first league starts of the campaign. Timo Werner, Trevoh Chalobah and the isolating Christian Pulisic made way.
N’Golo Kante and Hakim Ziyech were back on the bench after injury, with both introduced in the second half.
For Arsenal, Saka started having come off the bench at Brentford. Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares were brought into the defence with Ben White unavailable.
Arsenal starting lineup (4-2-3-1):
Leno | Tierney, Mari, Holding, Cedric | Sambi, Xhaka (c) | Saka, Smith Rowe, Pepe | Martinelli
Substitutes from: Ramsdale, Chambers, Kolasinac, Tavares, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Nelson, Balogun, Aubameyang
Chelsea starting lineup (3-4-3):
Mendy | Rüdiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta (c) | Alonso, Kovačić, Jorginho, James | Havertz, Lukaku, Mount
Substitutes from: Arrizabalaga, Chilwell, Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Zouma, Kanté, Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech, Werner.