Understandably it was Romelu Lukaku who dominated the post-match analysis after our 3-0 victory over Aston Villa, and Thomas Tuchel rated his performance as well as those of Saul and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Lukaku started and completed the scoring against an enterprising Villa team who could count themselves somewhat unlucky to be behind at the break. The excellence of Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva denied them an equaliser after Lukaku had opened his Stamford Bridge account.
The impressive Mateo Kovacic doubled our advantage early in the second half before Lukaku rounded off another excellent day’s work for Tuchel and his charges, even if the boss recognised the difficulties his team had to overcome…
‘It was absolutely not comfortable,’ he said.
‘We played against a strong Aston Villa side, who were well prepared.
‘They looked sharp from the start and caused us a lot of problems. We had to block a lot of shots and be wary at set-pieces, because they are strong.
‘I thought defensively we were very strong and did what we needed to do. Then in the second half, we were better. We were in control a lot more, we were a lot more fluid and we took our chances well.
‘It was a perfect result for us and of course a perfect night for our striker [Lukaku] but we know we can still improve a lot.’
Tuchel expanded on Lukaku’s instant impact
‘He has personality and self-confidence. He wants to score and help the team with his goals. He has the confidence and composure to do it. It was super important today because they were two very difficult goals, no easy tap-ins.
‘It made the difference to us, and helped us get three very important points against a very strong Aston Villa side. He adds something to the group we didn’t have, so we are very happy.’
It was a difficult debut for Saul
‘He struggled. I take the responsibility for that. I put him into a difficult match after a national break. It was hard for him to adapt to the physicality, and to the intensity and high pressing of Aston Villa. It was also a bit hard for him to adapt to our system and our principles.
‘We thought to give a bit more stability to the centre to switch the shape to a 5-3-2 in the second half with Jorginho. It was a tough one, but I hope he accepts it is my responsibility. In training it looked like he had no problem to adapt, but it was training. The game was very intense today, he had some easy ball losses so that’s why I thought before he loses more confidence I would take him off.’
Callum Hudson-Odoi played his first league game of the season
‘Callum has to overcome the gap between training and games. I see a stronger and stronger Callum every day in training, and he needs to show this kind of determination in games that he shows in training.
‘He is able to play as a right wing-back, as a left wing-back, in the two half-10 positions. He knows the group, we know him very well.
‘If he gets minutes it’s never a gift. We take hard decisions. He needs to deserve it and he deserves to play. I know it’s not his favourite position, but he can play it and serve the team when it’s necessary. Today it was, and still he can do better, be more aggressive, and still he can push himself to the limits.
‘He needs to overcome this gap to fight for his place in the squad. This is life at Chelsea.’