Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted he was surprised Everton managed to wrap up a permanent £28m deal for Romelu Lukaku this summer, but believes the Toffees have shown genuine ambition to challenge the Premier League's top teams by signing a centre-forward with star quality.
Lukaku failed to convince Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho that he deserved the chance to shine at Stamford Bridge this season, despite scoring 16 goals for Everton last season, more than any player at his parent club.
Chelsea's loss is Everton's gain though and Wenger believes the 21-year-old has a potent mix of power and technique that will help him shine on Merseyside, which begs the question why didn't Arsenal make a big-money offer for Lukaku themselves?
Ahead of Arsenals' trip to Goodison Park on Saturday evening Wenger was asked about Lukaku's move to Everton and gave the Belgian powerhouse a glowing reference.
Wenger told the Express: “It was a surprise. But that’s the price to be for ambition these days.
“They are ambitious. It makes the league even more interesting. I like him very much. He has a good mixture of physical presence and technical quality.
“I also like his attitude. His attitude is full of energy and desire, and it plays a big part in the success of a centre forward.”
This Saturday's showdown
Lukaku was a thorn in Arsenal's side the last time he came up against the Gunners, spearheading Everton's crushing 3-0 victory over Arsenal last March.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez moved Lukaku to the right and he made mincemeat of Nacho Monreal on a day where Champions League qualification looked possible, perhaps their best performance since the Spaniard took charge.
Arsenal responded strongly and eventually claimed fourth spot with room to spare, but this weekend's clash promises to be another very strong test of their title credentials.
The Gunners are without captain and former Everton star Mikel Arteta through injury, but should have their trio of World Cup winners Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski back in contention for a starting spot.
Will Arsenal sign another striker?
Lukaku could make both Wenger and Mourinho continue to look foolish if does the business for Everton this season, particularly in high-profile matches such as the Arsenal clash.
Gunners fans probably still wish Wenger had snapped up one of the world's best young forwards while he was still available, but for now its between Olivier Giroud, Yaya Sanogo and at a push Joel Campbell for a central starting spot at the Emirates.
Wenger is running out of time to add a genuine alternative to Giroud as the focal point in the final third, so it remains to be seen if Saturday's performance will prompt him into transfer deadline before next Monday's deadline.
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