Chelsea secured a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa yesterday thanks to a double from Romelu Lukaku and a strike from Mateo Kovacic.
Whatever Cristiano Ronaldo can do…
There was a homecoming this weekend. It’s likely you heard about it. Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United, Old Trafford. Ringing any bells?
Much of the focus ahead of the fourth round of Premier League fixtures was on the Portuguese. So much so that it was largely forgotten that Romelu Lukaku was making his first appearance at Stamford Bridge following his own return.
Lukaku fell in love with Chelsea’s home ground when he visited aged 17. Yet in his first spell as a Blues player, he never got to celebrate a goal at the stadium, never got to feel the adulation of the supporters.
He was out to change that against Aston Villa yesterday. And it didn’t take the Belgian too long.
In the 15th minute of the contest, Mateo Kovacic slalomed beyond a couple of challenges and played an inch-perfect pass through to the Belgian.
Lukaku still had plenty to do. Yet he displayed the composure and then ruthlessness that Chelsea so often lacked last term to open the scoring.
From his celebration alone, it was clear how much the goal meant to Lukaku. This wasn’t just the jubilation of a club-record signing, it was that of a fan.
The 28-year-old had very little to feed on for the remainder of the contest. Chelsea were not at their best despite the 3-0 scoreline.
Lukaku struck Chelsea’s third; a rasping drive from the edge of the penalty area. It meant, just as Ronaldo had done earlier in the afternoon, he netted twice on his homecoming.
After the contest, the question was put to Tuchel as to whether he felt Lukaku could outscore Ronaldo this season in the Premier League.
their 3-0 win over Aston Villa (Image: Getty Images)
The German, as ever, had little time for making comparisons or predictions. He said: “I couldn’t care less as long as Lukaku scores for us. Honestly, I know you’d like to have a good answer but unfortunately, I don’t have one.
“Lukaku was decisive for us today and that is what we are looking for. He wants to score for Chelsea, help the team with his goals, that is what he did today.
“That is why he is here. He is not shy to speak this ambition out loud because he is full of confidence and is the kind of personality that can handle it. This is what he showed in the first games and today.”
Silva continues to prove age is but a number
Silva didn’t miss a beat; it was like he’d never been out of the side. And that does create something of a headache for Thomas Tuchel given the form of Andreas Christensen.
Both can play in the same back three as evidenced last season. That means, however, one of Cesar Azpilicueta or Reece James has to miss out. It’s the agony of choice that Tuchel faces in the games ahead.
Tuchel right to take the blame for Saul debut
There was no doubt in the mind of the Chelsea head coach on Friday that Saul Niguez was ready to make his Blues debut against Aston Villa.
The Spaniard, who was signed on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day, had trained for almost two weeks at Cobham and was fresher than Jorginho, who played all three games for Italy during the international break.
Saul was given an early welcome to the Premier League by John McGinn; the Scot clattered into the Spaniard before he’d even taken his first touch in Blue.
What then followed was a painful 45 minutes in which Saul was continuously caught in possession and passed around by Villa.
There was little surprise that at half time, Tuchel turned to Jorginho and order was restored after the break.
Saul knows his Chelsea bow didn’t go as planned. But it was Tuchel who needed to shoulder the blame.
It was his decision to throw Saul into the side cold, to drop him into the choppy waters of the Premier League without a safety net.
Saul will improve. He’s got too much quality not. But it’s unlikely we see him in the starting XI, especially in the Premier League, for a little while.
Mendy reaffirms his position among Europe’s best
It was last month, ahead of the Champions League group stage draw, that Edouard Mendy was named UEFA Goalkeeper of the Season. It was recognition for his stellar 2020/21 Champions League run in which he conceded just three goals.
Mendy’s route to the top of the European game was far from traditional. It was only that he was
When the Senegal international arrived from Rennes last summer, he had to perform given the struggles of the world’s most expensive goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalga.
It’s testament to Mendy’s maturity and mentality he was able to not only be what Chelsea needed but exceed all expectations.
There are few better than the 30-year-old. He proved that again against Aston Villa. Mendy made save after save in the opening period; one double stop was particularly astounding.
He will not get the same plaudits as Lukaku but the goalkeeper’s display was just as important as the Belgian’s. He made sure Chelsea claimed three points.