Romelu Lukaku marked his second coming to Chelsea with a well-taken goal in their 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, condemning the Gunners to their worst ever start to a league season in their 118-year history.
On a bright afternoon in London, Thomas Tuchel opted to start club record-signing Lukaku against an Arsenal side that has won the derby fixture three times in a row. The German manager’s decision to start Lukaku paid off as he opened the scoring on his second debut for the club after only 15 minutes. The striker knocked down the ball to midfielder Mateo Kovacic in front of the Arsenal box, and Kovacic sent a brilliant pass wide right to wing-back Reece James, who put in a brilliant low cross for Lukaku, who had shrugged off Arsenal defender Pablo Mari, to simply sidefoot home from in front of an open goal. Tuchel’s men continued to dominate proceedings against Arsenal, and soon afterwards, they doubled their advantage after some intricate passing. Kai Havertz scooped the ball from an improbable position for the advancing Marcos Alonso, who immediately sent it square for Lukaku, who let it run to Mason Mount. Mount played the ball into the path of Chelsea wing-back James, who thrashed a finish high up into the Arsenal net in the 35th minute. Arsenal ended the first half strongly, and felt they should have been awarded a penalty after James looked to have upended Bukayo Saka in the box, but the referee decided there was not enough reason to warrant a penalty.
The second half saw Chelsea take their foot off the gas slightly as Arsenal’s approach to defending against them stopped the onslaught on their left flank. Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta had stationed Granit Xhaka as an auxiliary central defender to allow Kieran Tierney to step out wide and track the movement of James. The Gunners created a number of good openings in the second half, with Saka forcing a smart save from Edouard Mendy, and Rob Holding heading wide when it looked easier to score. Lukaku was close to scoring a second for Chelsea as his powerful header was tipped onto the crossbar by Bernd Leno in the Arsenal goal. Hakim Ziyech also spurned a great chance after his introduction off the bench for Chelsea, who closed out a comfortable 2-0 win.
Lukaku’s goal for Chelsea means that the striker has now scored on his debuts for Chelsea, Inter Milan, Manchester United, Everton and West Brom. It was his 114th goal in the Premier League and took him directly above Arsenal legend Ian Wright in the all-time Premier League scoring charts. After an opening day loss to Brentford, the defeat to Chelsea means that for the first time in their 118-year history, Arsenal have lost both of their opening league matches in a season without scoring a single goal. The Gunners will face Manchester City next, while Chelsea will travel to face Liverpool at Anfield.