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Liverpool on the ‘luk out’ as rampaging Rom returns

Liverpool on the ‘luk out’ as rampaging Rom returns

FOOTBALL: This weekend sees the first blockbuster game of the season so far as Liverpool host Chelsea at Anfield tomorrow (Aug 28).


By Ben Tirebuck

Friday 27 August 2021, 01:45PM


Romelu Lukaku (centre) bullied Arsenal into submission last weekend. Photo: AFP

Romelu Lukaku (centre) bullied Arsenal into submission last weekend. Photo: AFP

Not only are both sides unbeaten after two games but both have looked comfortably dominant in their respective performances.

Liverpool brushed aside newly-promoted Norwich in the opening game 3-0 then dispatched Burnley 2-0 last weekend with relative ease.

Mohamed Salah seems back to his effervescent best in attack and Virgil van Dijk’s calm authority has stablised the defence which, despite not yet really being tested, has yet to concede a goal.

However, tomorrow will be a different proposition altogether as Chelsea bring their West London swagger to Merseyside, spearheaded by the returning Romelu Lukaku.

Against Arsenal last Sunday (Aug 23) Lukaku showed in just 90 minutes exactly what Chelsea were missing last season, despite their European success – an intelligent, robust centre forward who can link play and, most importantly, score goals.

His record of 47 goals in 72 games for previous club Inter Milan, coupled with his hugely impressive 64 goals in 98 international appearances for Belgium, is exactly what Chelsea have been craving in recent years and should add an ominous new dimension to the Blues.

His opener against the Gunners was his first ever goal for Chelsea, almost a decade after he made his debut as a teenager and it was easy to see why they paid £97.5 million (B4.4 billion) to Inter reacquire his services.

His smart link up play was evident not just for his goal but throughout as he constantly posed problems for a traumatised Arsenal back line. But for a fanatstic save by Bernd Leno, Lukaku could have easily doubled his return.

It was an extremely impressive second debut and will have Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp concerned ahead of their meeting tomorrow, particularly given his outspoken disdain for the physical approach Burnley applied last Saturday.

Klopp criticised Burnley’s centre-forwards Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood for what he considered an overly aggressive performance where, in all truth, his defense were just bullied by more robust opponents.

Lukaku is also from the up and at them mould meaning van Dijk and co will be in for a physical test, by far their most challenging yet. With the creative energy of Kai Havertz and Mason Mount and the guile and craft of N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho supporting, Lukaku will be relishing what lies ahead.

Arteta and Vieira under pressure

Elsewhere, it doesn’t get any easier for Arsenal as they travel to Manchester City in tomorrow’s opening fixture.

Two losses on the bounce have increased the pressure on manager Mikel Arteta who will be more concerned with the actual nature of the defeats where his team looked toothless and ruderless on both occasions.

Losing against a City side fresh off a 5-0 spanking of Norwich will be no disgrace but will do nothing to disuade the critics that Arteta is out of his depth and needs to move on.

The 6-0 trouncing of West Bromwich Albion in the EFL Cup in midweek will no doubt help boost confidence, especially with club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang firing a hat-trick and fellow forward Alexandre Lacazette also amongst the goals.

Confronting the City machine on Saturday will be a different test altogether, however.

The news at The Etihad Stadium this week was dominated by the fact Harry Kane will not be joining the reigning champions after he committed his immediate future to current club Tottenham to end any transfer speculation, at least momentarily.

The club were then dealt a potentially devastating blow when manager Pep Guardiola announced on Wednesday that he plans to leave the club when his current contract expires in 2023.

QSI International School Phuket

“After seven years on this team, I think I’m going to have a stop. I’m going to have to take a break,” he said, hinting that any next move could see him take charge of an international team.

Elsewhere, top-placed West Ham United entertain Crystal Palace tomorrow with the pressure already mounting on new Eagles boss Patrick Vieira.

His side have lost all three of their games so far this season, including a midweek defeat to Watford in the EFL Cup.

Most worrying for the former Arsenal midefield general is the fact his team have yet to score a goal in any of those three games.

Lose a fourth game, as seems likely against a buzzing Hammers side, and the pressure will really be cranked up for Vieira.

All fixtures (Kick-off Phuket time)

Saturday

Manchester City vs Arsenal (6:30pm)

Aston Villa vs Brentford (9pm)

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Everton (9pm)

Newcastle United vs Southampton (9pm)

Norwich City vs Leicester City (9pm)

West Ham United vs Crystal Palace (9pm)

Liverpool vs Chelsea (11:30pm)

Sunday

Burnley vs Leeds United (8pm)

Tottenham Hotspur vs Watford (8pm)

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Manchester United (10:30pm)

Don’t forget the join The Phuket News’ weekly Premier League predictions game here.

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