After the poor 3-1 loss to Spurs on Saturday evening, Chelsea’s whole team came under scrutiny. However, none more so than David Luiz. It was clear that he played a big role in all three goals. He is an incredibly well liked footballer and a fan favourite at Chelsea but there have been whisperings of discontent from Chelsea fans that he remains a first choice centre back. This is how it has gone for Luiz for most of his career; he is hugely talented no one argues that. But he is also highly flawed. Let’s focus in on some of the intense criticism he is currently receiving.
It was him who gave the free kick away for a needless foul on Harry Kane. They then scored from the resulting free kick. The second, it is clear to see that Luiz has moved out the way of Harry Kane’s rather average strike from distance. Then the third goal, after Son had exposed Jorginho’s lack of pace, Luiz had a chance to tackle him. Son simply moved the ball onto his left foot and Luiz ran past him rather than tackle him which then resulted in the third goal.
He is being highly criticised for those three moments but mostly the second and third goal. Rightly so, considering centre backs of old at Chelsea including John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Gary Cahill and Marcel Desailly would never whimper and pull out of challenges like Luiz did, or be scared of the ball. They all had that old-fashioned, warrior like approach that Luiz failed to show on Saturday evening. It’s no doubt that Luiz hasn’t showcased these types of performances in his career before because the likes of the Champions League campaign in 2012 prove that. But it is clear that he doesn’t have that mentality or the concentration to do it every game which makes him a liability.
This isn’t the first time he has been exposed like this. A stat was revealed on Twitter in the recent days claiming that Luiz has been at fault for 7 of the 11 goals they have conceded this season (64%) It is no doubt he is a liability at the back. Physically he can compete with most but he has shown to be tactically inept with his decision making over his career. This backlash reminds me of the horror show against Barcelona in the 2014/15 season. Suarez was the tormentor that night, as he bullied him to score the first. For the second, Luiz went for a 50/50 half-heartedly and got nutmugged before Suarez put it in the top corner to round off a miserable night. Who can forget the World Cup Semi-Final against Germany, where they shipped seven goals in their own country. What I’m saying is, there is a history of Luiz doing it and it will happen again.
It is a shame for Luiz, who at the age of 31, looked like he was maturing as a player. As having generally performed to a high standard this season. In addition the goals conceded from him, most of them didn’t influence the final result. But this display has widely exposed him and opens the door for the likes of Christensen to step in and take over. Furthermore, his performances are affecting other players around him and Rudiger would certainly appreciate a defender next to him who doesn’t let him down to the same degree that Luiz has let him down this season. It doesn’t help the rumours that Sarri is in the market for centre back already and this only confirms his doubts over the Brazilian.
Where does this leave Luiz? I believe the qualities he possesses are much more suited to that of a midfielder. His best qualities and the qualities that Sarri has identified in him are is ability on the ball. He can pass a ball with ease anywhere on the pitch with both feet, he’s good in the air, good on the ball and has an eye for goal. Playing in midfielder means he has that insurance of a defence behind him and Kante next to him if he makes a mistake. Rather than being the last line of defence when he makes the inevitable mistake. I’ve always been a huge fan of him and it is sad to see him perform this way, but we all know that this happens all too often for a supposed ‘top centre back’ From the start of the season Sarri has placed his trust in him because of his experience and ball playing ability. But also because he couldn’t the targets he wanted in summer. Luiz almost gets away with it when he plays like that against weaker teams, because Chelsea usually have enough to win the game but in the big games, where it really matters, he gets punished.
I believe over time he will be phased out the first team as Chelsea and Sarri, crave a proper defender with the traditional defending qualities as well as possessing the ability to play ‘Sarri-Ball’. Inter Milan’s Milan Škriniar, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Juventus’s Daniele Rugani I imagine will be in Sarri’s mind as the dream centre back for his Chelsea team. Sadly, one thing is for certain, Luiz’s time as a centre back will mostly be remembered for games like this.
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image credit skysports