While Timo Werner’s struggles continued against Crystal Palace, Tuchel hinted that Lukaku won’t necessarily oust him from the starting XI
Tuchel believes Lukaku could play in a front two at Chelsea
Thomas Tuchel, the Chelsea manager, denies that his team are joint favourites for the Premier League title this season, preferring to see them as pursuers of last season’s top three.
But an increasing number of pundits, including two out of two on Match of the Day, disagree, and for the same reason – the return of their former striker, Romelu Lukaku.
Both Chelsea and Manchester City have made huge investments in a single player this summer. But while City’s Jack Grealish is just another star in an existing attacking firmament at the Etihad, Lukaku fills a problem position for Chelsea and feels more like a difference-maker.
Watching Tuchel’s side dismantle Crystal Palace on Saturday, it was easy to envisage how complete a rout it could have been with Lukaku in the central striking role, finishing fine work from fellow forwards Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount and wing-backs Marcos Alonso, Cesar Azpilicueta and Reece James.
Instead, with Lukaku quarantining after his club-record £97m move from Internazionale, Timo Werner continued to find new ways to avoid scoring, offering few reasons for Tuchel not to give Lukaku an immediate debut against Arsenal next weekend.
Most people would expect that to be at Werner’s expense, although Tuchel hinted that they could play together at times. “With the addition of Romelu we have the number one striker in and we want to have him on the pitch,” Tuchel said. “That is very clear when you do this kind of transfer.
“But I think he will take pressure from the shoulders of Kai [Havertz], Timo and Christian because Romelu is the kind of person who will link with continuity and he will lift the pressure off the young guys’ shoulders.
“I’m very happy with Christian, Timo and Kai because they give a lot of effort and put a lot of intensity into the team and I think with Romelu we have the opportunity to play with two strikers like they did with Inter with him or we can continue with three strikers.”
Pulisic certainly relished that prospect. “He [Lukaku] is a great goal-scorer,” the American said. “He plays with his back to goal, he is able to link play well, he brings other people into the game. He does a lot of things well and a player like that is great for guys like me and creative players in the team.
“I’ve seen a good amount of his games for sure so I know a lot about him and I’m real excited to work with him. I think a lot of the players in this team are going to benefit from him signing for the club