London: Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel is confident that new signing Romelu Lukaku can have a big impact and be the “missing piece” for the club as they chase their first Premier League title in five years, he told reporters.
Lukaku rejoined Chelsea from Inter Milan last week for a club record fee reportedly worth 97.5 million pounds ($132.62 million).
“We expect him to have an impact... we expect goals... he is a big personality in the dressing room but I am absolutely convinced he will have a positive impact on Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic. Is Romelu the missing piece? We hope so...” said Tuchel.
The German added that the Belgium international is in line to feature against Arsenal tomorrow.
“We have one more training to go but the week was a heavy load for (Lukaku) because he was in the group with the other late starters... we are hoping he is on the pitch and things look like it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tuchel confirmed that Pulisic missed training this week due to a positive COVID-19 test and will not be involved.
The Chelsea boss, however, sounded optimistic about the availability of Hakim Ziyech and N’Golo Kante, saying that the duo had absolutely no problems in training and “a more physical session” will determine their participation against Arsenal.
Chelsea have only won three of their past 14 games against Arsenal in all competitions but they have lost their opening Premier League away fixture in only three of the past 20 seasons.
Speaking about their opponents, who have had four positive COVID-19 cases of their own, Tuchel said he was unsure what the Arsenal team would look like.
“It’s a difficult one to predict. They can play maybe the underdog role here because of the complications they’ve had... it’s on us to be absolutely focused. There is a lot of quality in their squad and they can hurt anybody.” Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 3-0 in their Premier League opener last week, while Arsenal were beaten 2-0 by promoted Brentford.
Arsenal can win four successive matches against Chelsea in all competitions for the first time since 2004 and may have forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back after recovering from coronavirus but Alexandre Lacazette is yet to resume training following a positive test.
Willian has also returned a positive test and could miss out, while new signing Martin Odegaard has yet to receive visa clearance so can’t play.
Arsenal could lose their opening two Premier League matches of a season for only the third time.
Nine defeats at the Emirates in all competitions last season was their most at home since also losing nine in 1929-30.
The Gunners have lost their opening home league fixture in five of the past 10 seasons.
Arsenal's defeat at Brentford means they have already equalled their total number of Premier League London derby defeats from 2020-21.
Nicolas Pepe has scored four of Arsenal's past five Premier League goals, including each of the last three.
Chelsea have lost their opening Premier League away fixture in only three of the past 20 seasons.
The Blues can start their campaign with two clean sheets for the first time in 11 years.
Chelsea have kept 12 Premier League clean sheets under head coach Thomas Tuchel - three more than any other club since he joined the Blues.
They can equal the club top-flight record by winning five consecutive London derbies on the road.
Sunday 22nd Aug, 7:30pm, live on BEIN Sports