Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has said he has no issue with Arsenal defender David Luiz ahead of the Premier League clash between the teams on Sunday.
The Brazil international was sold by Chelsea in the summer, with the Gunners taking him across London. After saying he was keen to leave the Blues, Luiz was made to train away from the first team before the transfer went through.
Naturally, Lampard was asked about the 32-year-old before the clash at the Emirates Stadium, and the Chelsea boss said there's no animosity between him and his former Chelsea team-mate, per Sky Sports:
"Maybe I was a bit harsh not to answer [original question] directly. What I don't want to do is make it a personal question going into a game against a player who I respect and played with.
"If you look at our defenders and the emergence of [Fikayo] Tomori, it has been a big plus for us. It was just a decision that was made and while I'm here there will be countless more of those.
"Again, I certainly wish Luiz well. He was part of a Champions League-winning team with me, he played with half a hamstring in the final—I know that. He got himself fit when he was under pressure with the injury. I will always respect that."
Since arriving at Arsenal, Luiz has struggled for form as part of a defence that's leaked goals regularly. The team's troubles led to the sacking of the man who brought the defender to the club, Unai Emery. Mikel Arteta was recently drafted in as his replacement.
Sky Sports Statto noted earlier in the campaign that Luiz has done little to help shore up the Arsenal back line:
Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto
Shots faced per PL game in Arsenal career (excluding tonight): David Luiz 14 PL apps for Arsenal 17.4 shots faced per game Sokratis 38 apps 13.8 shots faced PG Holding 32 apps 12.9 shots faced PG Chambers 58 apps 12.5 shots faced PG Mustafi 85 apps 12.2 shots faced PG https://t.co/d1DS1HErIF
James Benge of Football.London was critical of the defender during the recent 0-0 draw with Everton:
Chelsea have not been defensively sound under Lampard, although the decision to sell Luiz made a degree of sense. In Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori, they possess a number of talented defenders in the formative years of their careers. But as of yet, Lampard has been unable to find a consistent structure at the base of the team.
Per Jack Rathborn of The Independent, Tomori has benefitted from the extra game time he's been afforded:
It will be intriguing to see how the defenders on show fare at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, with the battle between the veteran Luiz and Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham one to look forward to.
Chelsea sit in fourth place in the Premier League, just a point ahead of Manchester United in fifth. Arsenal are in 12th but can move to within five points of the Blues with a win over their London rivals.