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Chelsea's David Luiz: More at Home in Midfield Than in Defense

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  David Luiz of Chelsea salutes the home fans following their team's victory during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on December 29, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Hemant DuaCorrespondent IIDecember 3, 2016

Chelsea ran out 2-1 winners over title challengers Liverpool when the Reds visited Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and David Luiz has good reason to be satisfied with the part he played in his side's triumph.

Brazil international Luiz started the game alongside Frank Lampard in the double pivot of manager Jose Mourinho's favored 4-2-3-1 formation.

It had been a while since Luiz had played in midfield. In fact, the last time the 26-year-old featured there, a certain Rafael Benitez was the occupant of the Chelsea managerial hot-seat.

To get the better of in-form Liverpool, it was necessary to shackle the attacking quartet of Luis Suarez, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho. Achieving the same without the suspended Ramires was going to be an uphill task, but Luiz, a center-back by trade, delivered.

 

FourFourTwo Stats Zone

Sunday's game again demonstrated that the Brazilian is more at home when deployed in midfield than when he starts in defense. Of course, positioned there, he's less likely to have to pay a hefty price for a lapse in concentration, something he's prone to.

His ability when in possession makes him a real asset in the double pivot, and he moves the ball around faster than any of Lampard, John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien.

Meanwhile, Ramires, for all his graft and combativeness, doesn't have the ability to pick out quality passes quite like compatriot Luiz.

Chelsea's second goal is a case in point, as the man nicknamed Sideshow Bob played a clever dinked pass to Cesar Azplicueta on the right in the buildup.

Playing with a sitting midfielder like him has its advantages, as Luiz's presence meant the home side played with greater tempo going forward, even though the former Benfica man only managed a 73% pass success rate on the day.

It's not just about the man's on-the-ball proficiency, though. His mobility is a big plus too.

 

Squawka

When you're a holding midfielder for a title-chasing club, defensive duties and positional sense are paramount too. In the Liverpool game, there were occasions when Luiz bombed forward, leaving space for the opposition to hurt Chelsea on the break.

By and large, though, he was disciplined, and didn't go wandering out of position too frequently. He recorded three clearances and five ball recoveries.

Going by the evidence of the second half at the Bridge, John Obi Mikel is arguably the best partner for the fuzzy-haired Luiz. The pairing utilized in the double pivot depends on the nature of the opposition and will vary from game to game.

However, there will be matches where Chelsea need a ball-playing midfielder who can up the intensity of play; Luiz, on the back of yesterday's performance, has to be the prime candidate.

 

Statistics via FFT Stats Zone

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