What a start Rom-e-blue.

Published: Monday, 23 August 2021

I spent last night trying to think of the last time I’d seen such a good performance from a proper No9. Lukaku was sensational at Arsenal. He bullied. He led. He caused havoc. He scored. It was uncomplicated and an absolute joy to watch.

It was Drogba-like. It was like watching Shearer at his best. It was a throwback and so enjoyable. Arsenal couldn’t get anywhere near him - and if they did he swatted them off like flies.

Post match Thomas Tuchel told us that it was exactly what he wanted - that he’d told Lukaku to go out and do what he did for Inter last season. Tuchel added that he didn’t want to complicate it for Lukaku.  ‘Just play’ he told him. Brilliant. The more I see and hear of Tuchel the more I like him.

Top marks to Chelsea. They identified what they wanted - moved quickly - paid the money - and got their man. In other words - all of the things that City are refusing to do in their pursuit of Kane. Just get it done if you want him City. You’re hanging the guy out to dry.

I said last week that I was encouraged by the attitude of so many teams on the opening day. I’ll say it again - it’s been a great start. It’s so refreshing to see teams going hell for leather to win games. Chelsea epitomised that attitude at Arsenal. They wanted to win - so they got on the front foot - and swept Arsenal away. What did Arteta’s team have by way of a reply? Nothing. Absolutely nothing - apart from one tippy tappy spell of possession in the second half, when it was all too late. The game has moved on guys. Thank goodness.

The next man in at Arsenal will have to recognise that. What a mess they’re in. What exactly is Arteta trying to achieve? Regulars know my view - he was the wrong choice. It was always going to be too big a job for him. I accept that he hasn’t had much help from people around him - but at the end of the day - it’s his neck on the line. If they lose at West Brom and City this week, he’ll be lucky to survive. My choice to replace him? Brendan Rodgers.

It was the perfect weekend for City. Coming off the back of the defeat at Spurs they couldn’t have chosen better opposition. They needed a team to turn up - open up - and not resist. Norwich were fodder. Why didn’t Farke do something about that? Why do exactly what Guardiola wanted? No wonder the City boss ‘enjoys’ the way Norwich play. What naivety. No. What stupidity Farke. That’s why they’ll go back down.

I was surprised United were so poor at Southampton. I expected them to roll Saints over. Instead - it was them doing the rolling again. Come on Ole. You say the game has degenerated into ‘Rugby’? Don’t make me laugh. What’s happened is that after all the antics from Fernandes/Pogba and co last season - diving every time they were sneezed on - it’s been decided that we’ve got to cut that out of the game. Does Solskjaer really believe Fernandes was fouled in the build up to Saints’ goal? No. I’m sorry. Fernandes waited. He wanted contact - he looked - he got it - and he fell over. No foul. Football is a contact sport. Lukaku proved how exciting the game can be when we recognise that. I can’t wait to see how United handle him. They won’t if they go round play acting and crying.

I was disappointed to hear Klopp moaning on the same subject. What did he want from Burnley? The sort of performance Norwich gave at City? It doesn’t work like that. Teams such as Burnley have to work for what they get. Their front two - Barnes and Wood - mess you about. That’s their strength. What is Klopp actually saying - that van Dijk and Matip aren’t up for a battle? Like Solskjaer - he’s scored an own goal talking nonsense like that. If I’m Lukaku hearing that I can’t wait to play them.

On another subject - I read at the weekend it’s been confirmed that 9000 people contracted Covid after the Euro final at Wembley. Are we surprised? I’m not. My beINSPORTS colleague - the excellent Matt Crichley - reporting from Anfield - told us that vaccine certificates aren’t needed to get into games. That there are no Covid precautions. None at all. That’s scary.

Arsenal seem to have been hit harder than most by Covid - but they’re certainly not alone. Newcastle have had their problems and Steve Bruce has support in some quarters in calling for all players to be double vaccinated. A week ago I’d have agreed with him, but then my son, Josh, had his first jab and was really ill. He collapsed and ended up in hospital for three days. He’s now on a heart monitor for a month. It was a scary time for him and his Mum. As a result I’m certainly more understanding of the stance some have taken not to be vaccinated. It’s a problem. And I don’t know if any of us have an answer.