Dubai: The pressure will be on Romelu Lukaku to kick-start his return to Chelsea with goals aplenty - and there is no better way to begin than by hitting the back of the net against London rivals Arsenal tomorrow.
The £97.5million striker will fancy his chances at the Emirates Stadium with Gunners coach Mikel Arteta already feeling the pressure following their opening game defeat away at newly promoted Brentford. He will not be looking forward to locking horns with Champions League winning boss Thomas Tuchel and the wealth of talent available to him.
In all of his interviews since his return, Lukaku has appeared relaxed and in confident mood and we may see a virtuoso performance from the Belgium forward when he makes his second debut for the Blues.
Big money moves
He arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2011 but couldn’t break into the team and was sold after just 10 appearances to Everton in 2014. He enjoyed his time at the Toffees where he established himself as one of the best attackers in the game and then big money moves to Man Utd and then Inter Milan followed.
The 28-year-old has gained valuable experience on his travels and is now back in the English Premier League and cannot wait to get going again. He has matured and says he is a better all-round player - thanks mostly to working with Antonio Conte - and the Chelsea fans will be itching to see what he can do on the pitch for them now he is back. You can just see him getting off to a flying start against a nervous Arsenal side.
While in Italy he was put on special diet which saw him shed a considerable amount of weight and he now looks leaner than ever and says he feels sharper too. He was criticized for being overweight during his spell at Old Trafford but the Red Devils probably wouldn’t even recognize him now, such has been his transformation.
Blues owner Roman Abramovich bank rolled the huge transfer and clearly has faith in Lukaku to deliver the goods. The Russian billionaire has given second chances to others, notably coach Jose Mourinho, and he was repaid as the Portuguese boss won them the title in his second spell.
However, there is a lot more riding on the return on Lukaku as he has cost almost £100 million and will have to break the curse of the number 9 shirt. Chelsea have signed some brilliant strikers over the years but they all failed miserably. Andriy Shevchenko, Fernando Torres, Alvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain and Radomel Falcao all arrived at the Bridge with fantastic goal scoring records, but left as major flops.
But Lukaku is in his prime and if he hits the ground running, then Chelsea will be serious title contenders. And following his arrival at the Bridge, you can expect Man City to push ahead with the transfer of Harry Kane from Tottenham because with Lukaku back, Pep Guardiola will need all the firepower he can get to defend their crown.