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Chelsea: Romelu Lukaku admits Thomas Tuchel snub has been ‘difficult’ after scoring at Aston Villa

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‘We are the hunters now’: Romelu Lukaku insists Chelsea will treat every match like a final in their bid to catch Man City… as matchwinner admits he has been frustrated at being left out by Blues boss Thomas Tuchel

Romelu Lukaku says Chelsea are relishing being the ‘hunters’ in the Premier League title race after returning to the scoresheet in their 3-1 Boxing Day win away at Aston Villa.

Lukaku, 28, headed home his first league goal since September to help the Blues claim a precious set of three points at Villa Park, moving them level on points with Liverpool and six behind leaders Manchester City.

The Belgium striker has failed to work his way back into Thomas Tuchel’s plans since returning from an ankle injury in November, with his last league start coming back in October, while he also missed their last two matches after testing positive for Covid-19.

Romelu Lukaku says Chelsea are relishing being the ‘hunters’ in the Premier League title race

Lukaku headed home his first league goal since September in the Blues’ 3-1 win at Aston Villa

And after coming off the bench to head home against Villa on Boxing Day, Lukaku admitted he is now desperate to return to the starting line-up after growing frustrated with late substitute cameos.

‘I think I needed a performance like this today. It’s been difficult getting ends of the game, every footballer wants to be on the pitch,’ he told Sky Sports.

‘The manager has his reasons, but I kept working hard and today was good first to win, and then for myself personally I’m happy with my performance and I want to push on.

The Belgian striker then issued a subtle dig at Thomas Tuchel over his lack of game time

‘(The goal was about) movement. I think balls from crosses and stuff, throughout the years my movement in the box has been better. I try to be less static and try to be on the move all the time.

‘The cross was a brilliant cross and then I just flicked it in.

‘I think that’s one of my preferred actions, running into space and using my speed and my power. The defender made contact and then Jorgi(nho) finished it off for us.’

Chelsea could not have afforded another slip-up at Villa if they have any ambitions to win the title. Recent draws against Manchester United, Everton and Wolves saw them tumble down to third, but Sunday’s victory has kept them in the hunt to become champions.

Lukaku added: ‘We are the hunters now. The last results for us were not the best and now we have to chase. Every game for us from now until the end of the season is a final, you have to treat them like finals because every game in the Premier League is very difficult.

‘But today we won and now we have to push on and keep chasing.

‘Today we had to do a job, we had to win the game. Aston Villa was doing really well in the last couple of games, credit to Steven Gerrard and his staff and their players, they have a really good team and it wasn’t easy for us.

‘Now we have to push on and make sure that every game is a final. Win, and that’s it.’

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