Thomas Tuchel was delighted with Romelu Lukaku’s second Chelsea debut, but tempered praise, insisting it is “not the time for too much celebration”.
Lukaku scored the opening goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Arsenal on Sunday, with Reece James grabbing the second.
The Gunners had won their past three games against Chelsea in all competitions, but were outclassed as £97.5million signing Lukaku had an instant impact.
He had eight attempts and created a further three chances, having only previously been involved in more than 11 shots in a single match in Europe’s top five leagues (13 for Everton v West Ham, 2015).
Lukaku continued his outstanding Inter form, with 13 goals and eight assists in his past 19 league games, and appeared to solve Chelsea’s biggest problem after a wasteful 2020-21 campaign.
But Tuchel, despite talking up the forward’s role, was not getting carried away with just two matches of the Premier League season played.
“I certainly think that nobody likes to play against him,” the Chelsea coach told a news conference.
“Everyone is aware of his physicality but also of his strengths in link-up play and his strengths to attack the space, so he gives a dimension, another dimension to our game.
“But now it is our job also not to lose our strengths, lose the work rate, the team effort, the intensity against the ball, so we have to bring everything together.
1 – Romelu Lukaku has scored his first goal for Chelsea in his 16th appearance for the club, nine years and 360 days after initially making his debut for the Blues in August 2011. Awaited. pic.twitter.com/mFEHujR2Fh
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 22, 2021
“It’s not only about the qualities and the skills from Romelu, it’s the package that made it so promising for us.
“It’s the age, it’s the experience, it’s that he’s a Chelsea fan and was always a Chelsea fan and his dream was to make it at this club. So, this is what we feel from day one from him.
“He has this personality and he grew in his personality in his clubs where he played; he played for big clubs, he scored for big clubs. And he has this genuine trust in himself.
“Like I said, I hope that it takes pressure off our young guys’ shoulders.
“Now it’s his first game played and we have a lot more to do and it has only just begun. So, it’s not the time now for too much praise and it’s not the time for too much celebration. We need to keep on going in the start of the season.”
Lukaku is Chelsea’s only high-profile signing so far in this transfer window, but Tuchel suggested he was not looking for further additions, keen to protect the “strong bond” and “great team spirit”.
“I’m absolutely happy with our squad and the alternatives we have,” he said.
“It’s not too big a squad, like we were missing Christian Pulisic today and that meant that everybody else was straight in the squad, in the 18-player squad plus the goalkeepers.
“That means we have not the biggest squad, but we have a very, very competitive squad in all positions, which is I think on one hand necessary because we play a lot of competitions and have the World Cup coming up in December and we have a pretty unique situation that we played very long and had the Euros and the Copa America.
“So, if we want to compete, we need this kind of level.
“But at the same time, it’s also that we believe that we are a strong group, because this was maybe the key in the last half a year, that we played with a strong bond and with a great team spirit.
“This will be the challenge for me and for the team, that we create this atmosphere again and that everybody is ready to take our positions and still keep pushing the team. If we do this, we can achieve more than if we don’t.”
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