'Didn't know how to deal with him': Rio Ferdinand claims Arsenal just couldn't stop Chelsea 28-year-old

Rio Ferdinand praised Romelu Lukaku’s brutish mauling of Arsenal’s centre-backs during the Chelsea conquest last weekend.

Speaking on Vibe with Five, Ferdinand appreciated the one-sided affair that Lukaku launched himself into on Sunday, a contest that was fully in his favour.

If anyone needed reminding, the Belgian marked his return to Chelsea after nearly a decade on the road with a goal and a destructive display at the Emirates.

Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

He let everybody know that the young schoolboy who wandered around Stamford Bridge like a kid in a candy shop all those years ago is no more.


Now at 28, the striker is a man on a mission. His first task: to dismantle Arsenal’s defenders.

This assignment was achieved all too easily.

Pablo Mari may as well have stayed in the warmth of his living room; such was the Spaniards non-existent attempt to deny Lukaku the chance to open his Chelsea account.

An Arsenal execution

In the aftermath of the Blues opener, Mari was sprawled across the turf like an animal rug; he must’ve wished the ground had swallowed him up.

It was a scene of devastation that is probably going to trail Lukaku all season, so defenders beware.

“He bullies people,’ said Ferdinand, who would’ve relished facing Chelsea’s no.9.

“He was like a sixth former playing against first years, that’s what he made the Arsenal centre-backs look like, they didn’t know how to deal with him.”

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Being deemed a bully generally comes with quite negative connotations.

But being able to torment someone in football is often respected, not rejected.  

“I think he’s shown how he bullies players today,” glowed Reece James in appreciation for Lukaku’s pounding of the Arsenal back-line.

“I can’t really think of any players like him in the world, how strong and powerful. Everyone he just comes up against he just bullies.”

Taking Lukaku up a level

Unfortunately for Mari, he will be used by managers up and down the country as the prime example of how not to deal with Lukaku.

Players might gradually start to decide not to cling onto his shirt for dear life all game and try to capitalise on a poor touch.

Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Which is something Ferdinand felt the Chelsea centre-forward needed to work on if he wanted to become the finished article.

“I still think Lukaku’s hold-up play outside of the box sometimes leaves a bit to be desired.

“But when you play the ball into him in and around the box, my man’s touch is like glue.”

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.