Romelu Lukaku scored his first-ever Chelsea goal – almost a decade after his debut – as Thomas Tuchel’s team deservedly beat Arsenal.
Lukaku, who was at Chelsea as a teenager, started at the Emirates after his £97.5m signing from Inter Milan and looks to have given the Blues an ominous new dimension.
His hold-up and link-up play caused Arsenal problems all day – and the Belgian duly gave them the lead.
Lukaku was involved in the build-up and then finished the move from close range into an empty net from Reece James’ pass.
James got the second himself as he slammed the ball into the roof of the net from Mason Mount’s pass to make it two wins from two in the league.
Lukaku almost made it 3-0 but his header was tipped onto the bar by Bernd Leno.
Arsenal, missing centre-back Ben White through Covid, have now lost more London derbies in the Premier League this season than last – after just two games.
It is only the third time Arsenal have lost their opening two Premier League matches in a season.
European champions Chelsea were already being tipped as major title contenders, having been one of the best teams around since Tuchel’s arrival in January.
The one thing they lacked last season was a prolific goalscorer – but they now have that in Lukaku.
Five days short of a decade after his Chelsea debut, this was his 16th appearance for the club – having been at West Brom, Everton, Manchester United and Inter Milan in the interim.
And he gives the Blues a focal point up top and the clinical finisher that they have missed.
The 28-year-old opened the scoring when he held the ball up before playing it to Kovacic and then leaving Pablo Mari on the turf as he raced into the six-yard box to finish from James’ cross.
He was also tackled by Granit Xhaka in the build-up to the second goal.
Chelsea could have had more goals – with Lukaku having eight of their 22 efforts himself – including the one Leno tipped onto the woodwork.
Kai Havertz went close to a third as well from Lukaku’s pass but Leno stopped his shot with his legs.
The worry for Chelsea’s title rivals will be in trying to find any weaknesses.
Their defence is almost unbreachable at times, midfielders N’Golo Kante – who was a second-half substitute – and Jorginho are two-thirds of the shortlist for the Uefa player of the year award, and Mount and Kai Havertz support Lukaku upfront.
Next up will be their biggest test of the season yet, away to Liverpool – who are also on six points – on Saturday.
Arsenal had never opened a league campaign with two defeats and no goals in their previous 117 seasons of existence – until now.
The Gunners, who lost 2-0 to Brentford in the season opener, started the game well in front of their biggest home crowd in almost 18 months.
Bukayo Saka laid the ball off for Emile Smith Rowe, whose 25-yard shot was saved early on.
The fans were on their feet cheering a good Nicolas Pepe run, but it eventually led to nothing – and they looked beaten from the moment Lukaku scored.
Their left side was exposed by James for both goals.
James was involved at the other end too – Arsenal felt they should have had a penalty when he shoved over England team-mate Saka. After a long video assistant referee review, the referee’s decision not to give the penalty stood.
If Rob Holding had scored with a header from eight yards out in the second half, that could have sparked a comeback but he headed wide.
Arsenal has injury and illness problems – with £50m centre-back Whiteout with Covid, Alexandre Lacazette recovering from the illness and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang only fit for the bench after catching the virus too.
But all signs are already pointing to another season of struggle. After two eighth-placed finishes in a row, could it get even worse?
August 1992 was the first month of the Premier League. That was the last time before now Arsenal were in the relegation zone at the end of a day with more than one game played.
Mikel Arteta’s side plays West Brom in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, and their next league game is at champions Manchester City next Sunday.
In Other News – Southampton 1 – 1 Manchester United
Manchester United failed to build on their opening day demolition of Leeds United as Southampton earned a fully-deserved draw at St Mary’s.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side looked full of attacking menace and threat in that 5-1 win over Leeds, but here they were a pale shadow of that performance as Saints earned their first point of the campaign and even threatened to grab the victory. learn more