Thomas Tuchel believes Romelu Lukaku and Chelsea will face a major “stress test” against Liverpool at Anfield.
Club-record £98million recruit Lukaku enjoyed the perfect start by netting on his second Chelsea debut in last weekend’s 2-0 win at Arsenal.
But manager Tuchel is acutely aware of the scale of task awaiting both the Belgium hitman and his Chelsea side on Saturday.
Tipping Lukaku to thrive in the greatest pressure situations, Tuchel admitted facing Liverpool will help hone how the Blues gel with their new attacking spearhead.
“He’s had one match with us which was pretty impressive and a good start,” said Tuchel.
“And from now on we are into details and adapting and to connecting better and better.
“And the stress test is on tomorrow at Anfield, and we will see.
“But when we signed him we knew we were getting a very experienced player, in terms of playing big matches.
“He loves these kinds of stages and that’s why I expect the best we can see from him right now.
“I’m not sure he has yet reached top level, maybe not, because he only has one game in his legs.
“But he will have a good match tomorrow, because he loves to play in these types of matches, he’s a tough competitor, and against strong opponents.”
Chelsea beat Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield in March, but the hosts were struggling with a centre-back injury glut.
Talismanic defender Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip are back in tandem for Jurgen Klopp’s men however, leaving Tuchel admitting Saturday’s Merseyside trip represents a whole new test.
Asked if Liverpool are an entirely different proposition from last season, Tuchel replied: “Yes of course and we should not hide from it.
“It’s not an excuse, it’s the reality. It is a different Liverpool from the Liverpool without Van Dijk.
“It is not only his isolated capacity and ability and level of performance; he also makes everybody else around him feel more comfortable.
“It is a huge upgrade to last March and with spectators too, that will be a big factor at Anfield.
“At the same time we also feel very confident as we have known each other longer now and have good experiences together, and feel we can fight on this level.”
Baba Rahman has extended his Chelsea contract until the summer of 2024 and joined Reading on a season-long loan.
Rahman, 27, joined the Blues from Augsburg for a reported £21.7million in 2015 and made 23 appearances in his debut season before having loan spells at Schalke, Reims, Mallorca and PAOK in Greece.
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