Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy has maintained his opinion that Chelsea aren’t Premier League title favourites despite Romelu Lukaku’s mega-money return.
Lukaku, 28, signed for a club-record fee of almost £98million last week from Inter Milan and is in line to make his second debut for the Blues in the London derby on Sunday against Arsenal.
Chelsea struggled up front last season in trying to score the required goals necessary to propel Thomas Tuchel’s side into a Premier League title race, with Jorginho the top goalscorer with seven goals in the last campaign.
Kai Havertz and Timo Werner failed to provide that lethal streak up top which has evaded the west Londoners since Diego Costa left the club back in 2017 after falling out with Antonio Conte, who was manager at the time.
The 28-year-old’s homecoming is therefore being viewed by some fans as the missing part in the jigsaw, but this isn’t the case for Murphy, who believes still that Chelsea aren’t title favourites despite this highly-rated signing.
“[Romelu] Lukaku’s arrival from Inter Milan is a big statement by Chelsea,” Murphy wrote for the Mail on Sunday via the Metro.
“It adds another string to their attacking bow and I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two forwards left.
“I can’t see how you keep them all happy.
“The big question is whether Lukaku on his own can tip the title odds in Chelsea’s favour ahead of Manchester City or Liverpool.
“I think it’s a huge call for one signing to decide the league title and I’d still have Chelsea marginally behind the past two winners but it will allow [Thomas] Tuchel to take a few more risks in games and play on the front foot.’
This view contradicts those of Match of the Day pundits Alan Shearer and Ian Wright, with the former backing the Blues for the title even if Manchester City sign Harry Kane before the August 31 deadline.
With Lukaku’s signing, both Shearer and Wright have predicted a closer Premier League title race this season, with the former backing the Blues to come out on top, even if Harry Kane is eventually signed by the champions nearer the end of the window.
Shearer stated: “It will be a lot tighter this season compared to last, and I think Lukaku will be a game-changer for them because that’s exactly what they need.
“The number of times they got balls into the box and even today, you thought he could have been on the end of that so there’s no doubt that he guarantees them goals and they certainly won’t miss as many chances like that in the team.
“I’m going for Chelsea even if City get Kane.”
The Arsenal legend followed up on the Premier League’s all-time current top scorer’s claim, also tipping the west Londoners to end up in first place come the end of the season.
“I’m going to go for Chelsea as well now they have got Rom.”
And Lukaku has certainly shown hit mettle early on, scoring after just 15 minutes of his second debut and terrorising the Arsenal defence all day.