'For sure': Hasenhuttl says Chelsea have a player who makes them 'stronger' despite CL struggles

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl identified Romelu Lukaku as the catalyst for Chelsea becoming a European powerhouse once again.

Speaking in his press conference yesterday, Hasenhuttl hailed Lukaku ahead of the Saints Premier League trip to Stamford Bridge tomorrow.

The Belgian has certainly brought plenty of optimism to the English capital following his club-record move from Inter Milan in the summer.

Four goals in his first four games back in Blue made everyone sit up and take notice.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

However, after such a strong start, the striker is flagging a little.

He is now on a run of four matches without scoring, including the miserable mid-week Champions League loss against Juventus.

Lukaku was harried and hassled by Juve’s centre-backs, Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt, meaning his night was limited to just a handful of touches.

It was a terrible evening all round for Chelsea in Turin, but especially for their expensive no.9.

Ralph rates Rom

Despite his European troubles, Hasenhuttl still held Lukaku in very high regard, warning Southampton of the centre-forward’s undisputed threat.

“It’s not only about being a beast against him but also being clever,” said Hasenhuttl on Lukaku.

Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

“We have seen yesterday a very good example of how you can play against him.

“It is not possible to keep him out of the game for 90 minutes he will get a chance or two or whatever, but we must be there.

“He doesn’t need a lot of chances to score and for sure this is the player Chelsea were missing in the past and makes them definitely stronger.”

Lukaku loves facing Southampton

The Saints must be wary that Lukaku will be on the warpath after the mediocre display on Wednesday.

They should be even more worried when they look at the 28-year-old’s previous record against them.

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In 12 matches versus the coastal club, Lukaku has scored nine times, split between three different sides.

Also, Southampton have only beaten Chelsea twice since 2015, so there’s that hoodoo hanging over their head.

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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.