The Chelsea talisman has been hailed as a saviour for the Blues after they managed to salvage a point against Aston Villa on December 27. The Belgium international was pivotal in both halves, eventually getting his name on the scoresheet before being stretchered off with injury.,
Romelu Lukaku “singlehandedly” dragged Chelsea back into title race in Aston Villa win, says Jamie Redknapp. The Belgian scored a hat-trick as Chelsea defeated Aston Villa 4-2 on Saturday to move within five points of the Premier League leaders.
In Chelsea’s triumph against Aston Villa, Romelu Lukaku scored in the second half (Picture: Getty)
After coming off the bench to help Chelsea defeat Aston Villa 3-1 on Boxing Day, Jamie Redknapp claimed Romelu Lukaku had’singlehandedly’ brought Chelsea back into the Premier League championship chase.
At Villa Park, the Blues got off to the worst possible start as Reece James headed Matt Targett’s cross past Edouard Mendy, but the visitors were level at the interval due to Jorginho’s 34th-minute penalty.
Lukaku was disgruntled to be picked among the replacements, while Christian Pulisic failed to make an impact in the attacking third until Tuchel opted to make a change before halftime.
The Belgian’s last Premier League goal came against Villa at home in mid-September, but he looked in excellent form as he found space and headed past Emiliano Martinez in the 56th minute.
Lukaku was also involved in Chelsea’s third goal, when he was pulled down inside the area by Ezri Konsa. Jorginho scored his second from the penalty spot, and the visitors held on to draw level on points with second-placed Liverpool.
Tuchel would have breathed a sigh of relief after the Champions League holders had drawn their previous two matches in the English Premier League, and Redknapp, who was commentating for Sky Sports, made sure to underline Lukaku’s contribution.
‘He single-handedly resurrected his squad in the championship chase.’ They needed something, a spark, and that’s precisely what he provided,’ says the former Liverpool, Tottenham, and England midfielder.
‘They were going nowhere quickly in the first half, and the manager would have been scratching his head and wondering, “What do I do?”
‘The logical thing was to put him in because they were having so much trouble with Pulisic as the number nine in the first half.’
At Villa Park, Jorginho scored twice from the penalty spot (Picture: Getty)
Chelsea’started to click’ once Lukaku was brought in place of Trevoh Chalobah, according to Redknapp.
He went on to say, ‘He likes that right-side channel where he can cut in on his left foot.’
‘From the first minute, he made such a difference with his confidence.’
‘When you consider the way Chelsea has played in the previous few games, it’s clear that it’s possible to win without a true number nine.’ They tried it with a lot of guys, but Pulisic was the exception.
‘As soon as Lukaku stepped onto the field, things began to fall into place.’ You can play him deep, he can go in behind, he can be the focal point, and as a midfielder, you can pass it to him and he’ll return it.
‘They kept dropping the ball so many times because they didn’t have somebody to catch it until he came on.’ He surprises them with something utterly unexpected.’
Lukaku’s brilliance off the bench as a replacement astounded Redknapp (Picture: Getty)
Redknapp expressed confidence in Chelsea’s championship chances, but cautioned the west London giants that they would be tested in their next two home meetings against Brighton and Liverpool.
‘It’s a pair of extremely excellent games for them,’ he said, ‘games where we’ll learn a lot about this Chelsea team.’
‘They had a few of injuries today, one of which was clearly Thiago Silva’s, but they looked like a totally different team with him on the pitch.’
‘There isn’t much you can do via Covid-19 and injuries, and that’s making it so tough for managers right now.’
‘However, when you can get your top players on the field, when you have Lukaku on the field, Chelsea seems to be a lot superior team.’
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‘Of course, they’re in contention for the crown. Manchester City and Liverpool are, in my opinion, the finest teams right now, but Chelsea must hope that City has a glitch, that they lose a few players to injury, and that everything goes their way.
‘However, if Chelsea are to win it, Lukaku will play a key role.’
After Chelsea’s victory against Aston Villa, Thomas Tuchel discloses injuries to Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante.
MORE: John Terry is expected to return to Chelsea’s academy to assist with young players
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