Thomas Tuchel told Chelseas title hopes this season rest on one player

In pictures: Aston Villa v Chelsea

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Chelsea’s Premier League title hopes this season rest on Romelu Lukaku staying fit, claims former Norway striker and European football broadcaster Jan Aage Fjortoft. Lukaku scored his first Premier League goal since September when he netted Chelsea’s second in the 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

Lukaku hasn’t started a Premier League match since October 16.

The Belgian has spent time out due to injury, as well as testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.

He has had to wait for his chance back in a Chelsea side who have struggled of late under Thomas Tuchel.

Lukaku came on at half-time at Villa Park and had put Chelsea into the lead less than 11 minutes later.

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The Blues’ record signing also played a huge part in Chelsea’s third goal, winning a penalty after a fine solo run.

Appearing on ESPN FC, Fjortoft was asked by presenter Dan Thomas: “Is it as simple if Lukaku stays fit between now and the end of the season Chelsea are title contenders, if not, they’re not?”

Fjortoft believes that is the case and says it is not just because of the Belgian’s goalscoring

He responded: “I think it is. And it’s not only the goals of Lukaku, you’re talking about the rhythm of Chelsea Football Club.

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“When you compare it with Manchester City, you feel that they have a way to do without a No 9, they just make their runs and you get people in and around the box from all kinds of positions.

“You feel that Chelsea need that big No 9. I think they have so many players around the 18-yard box but they need someone to play off.

“Lukaku is a big No 9, because he will score his goals, but he will also make the other players better.

“And I think that is the weakness and the strength of the title contention for Chelsea Football Club. They need a No 9, they need Lukaku there.

“Manchester City, they find another way. But Chelsea, they need this one.”

Speaking after his starring role at Villa, Lukaku conceded he needed to prove he was ready to feature again under Tuchel.

“I think I needed a performance like this,” Lukaku said.

“It’s been difficult getting back in. Every footballer wants to be on the pitch, but I kept working hard.

“It was good for us to win and, for myself personally, I’m happy with my performance and I have to push on.”

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