Chelsea fans were buzzing to see the leadership and maturity Romelu Lukaku showed in his post-match interview, where he fired a stern Premier League title race warning to Liverpool and Man City.
Lukaku, 28, broke his long awaited goal drought in the Premier League that stretched backed to September with his lovely headed effort that came only 11 minutes after his introduction in the second half.
His ability to hold up the play and link up with the rest of the attackers – something that was missing in the first half when Christian Pulisic was deployed in the false 9 role – was a key reason why the west Londoners were able to flip the contest on its head after the catastrophic Reece James own goal in the first half.
“I think I needed a performance like this today. It’s been difficult getting ends of the game, every footballer wants to be on the pitch,” Lukaku told Sky Sports.
“The manager has his reasons, but I kept working hard and today was good first to win, and then for myself personally I’m happy with my performance and I want to push on.
“(The goal was about) movement. I think balls from crosses and stuff, throughout the years my movement in the box has been better. I try to be less static and try to be on the move all the time.
“The cross was a brilliant cross and then I just flicked it in.
“I think that’s one of my preferred actions, running into space and using my speed and my power. The defender made contact and then Jorgi(nho) finished it off for us.”
Lukaku then added what this result means for the current state of the title race: “We are the hunters now. The last results for us were not the best and now we have to chase.
“Every game for us from now until the end of the season is a final, you have to treat them like finals because every game in the Premier League is very difficult. But today we won and now we have to push on and keep chasing.
“Today we had to do a job, we had to win the game. Aston Villa was doing really well in the last couple of games, credit to Steven Gerrard and his staff and their players, they have a really good team and it wasn’t easy for us.
“Now we have to push on and make sure that every game is a final. Win, and that’s it.”
So, Chelsea’s No.9 didn’t rule out a potential title challenge despite the festive slump and Jamie Redknapp agreed with him on this specific matter.
“Lukaku has single-handedly got his team back in this title race,” Redknapp told Sky Sports.
“They needed something, they needed a spark and that’s exactly what he brought. In the first half they were going nowhere fast, the manager was scratching his head thinking ‘what do I do?’.
“The obvious thing was to bring him on, because they struggled so much with Christian Pulisic in the first half as that No.9.
“Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa had bullied Pulisic. It was too easy for them. But when Mings crashed into his goalkeeper a minute after Lukaku came on, they knew they were going to be in a fight for the next 45 minutes. That set the tempo.
“From minute one when he came on he just made such a difference. He added that confidence. Everything started to click.
“You could play from deep, you could play it in behind, he gives you that focal point and you can pop it into him… He gives them something completely different.
“They looked a completely different proposition with him up front and when they can get their best players on the pitch – N’Golo Kante, Lukaku – Chelsea look a much better side. And of course, they’re right in this title race.
“City and Liverpool are right now, for me, the best teams, but Chelsea have to hope City maybe have a blip or things don’t go their way.
“But if Chelsea are to win it, Lukaku is going to play a massive part.”
It’s safe to say that Blues fans were elated to see their main man find his form at exactly the right time, and his comments after the game received most of the love on social media.
Here’s some of the best comments on Reddit to his warning to Liverpool and Man City.
@GrandLune claimed: Big Rom > Le Bron
@Fabs74 pointed out: ‘Sky gave him MOTM even tho he only played a half. Was immense today. Hope it continues.
@PadmeAni was delighted with one telling moment in the interview: ‘”That is my preferred action, running into space”, say it louder Lukaku this sub needs to understand how you operate.’
@lilbismyfriend21 delivered their one word verdict: ‘Beast.’
How did you rate the players from the Boxing Day victory in the West Midlands? Make your selections below!
@Gnewc23 reckons: ‘Spoken like a true leader. Love the maturity. Go on rom.’
Finally, @WilfriedBonyFanAcc similarly wrote: ‘I love this attitude.’
Source by Football London