Romelu Lukaku confessed Chelsea’s training ground was like a battlefield as he recalled a feisty encounter with former captain John Terry during his first spell at the club.
Lukaku, 28, recently returned to the Blues from Inter Milan for a £97.5million fee, but his first stint in west London began a decade ago.
The fresh-faced Belgian moved to Stamford Bridge from Anderlecht as a teenager and struggled with his new surroundings, failing to score in 15 appearances.
While subsequent moves to Everton, Manchester United and Inter saw Lukaku blossom into one of Europe’s finest and most-dominant strikers, things were very different throughout his first spell at Chelsea.
“I realised the first day when I came in, the first training session I really saw what it was about,” said Lukaku.
“The challenges, it was like a warzone every day. I remember JT kicked me, I remember I dribbled him one the side, my first one vs one, and he got me straight away.
“The second time he took me and the ball and everything and I liked it. That’s when I knew this is the highest level.
“Very quickly I realised there was a lot of work to be done on my side. I entered a dressing room full of men, they won a lot. Those basics, I took it for the rest of my career.”
Lukaku was shipped out on loan to West Brom and Everton before joining the latter permanently for £28million in 2014.
He spent a mixed two seasons at Old Trafford before rekindling his best form in Italy, firing Inter to the Serie A title last season as the division’s most valuable player.
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“Is Romelu the missing piece? We hope, we hope. Of course we expect goals,” said Blues boss Thomas Tuchel.
“And why? Because he delivered goals everywhere he played so, yes, that’s why he’s here and we will see how far that goes.
“I am absolutely convinced he will have a very positive impact on Timo Werner, on Kai Havertz, on Christian Pulisic and the guys who play with him and around him and will open spaces and attract focus from the defenders.
“That we demand goals and he demands goals is obvious.”
The European champions arrive at the Emirates full of confidence after a 3-0 win at Crystal Palace last weekend.
Arsenal, meanwhile, fell to a 2-0 defeat at Brentford and there is pressure on Mikel Arteta to get a positive result against a Chelsea side spearheaded by Lukaku.