There have been a number of players over the course of last one year who have improved a lot. Mata’s 2nd season at Chelsea was an absolute blinder; Gary Cahill grew in stature and became a leader at the back as the last season progressed. But if I had to pick one player over the last 8-9 months who has really improved that player undoubtedly is David Luiz.
If I was asked about Luiz roughly a year ago, I’d always say a gem of a footballer but a player without a head. A player who would make positional errors every now and then resulting in goals, someone who would move forward way too much for a fans liking leaving the defense outnumbered. Just to keep it short i was not a fan of his. Gary Neville once pointed out Luiz as a player controlled by a 10 year old on a playstation giving an impression that Luiz was a liability. A player with tremendous footballing ability but his lapses of concentration were causing the team crucial points.
The only position i could see him playing in was as a DM, due to his vision and more often than not his ability to pick out that pass. Add to that his occasional classic long rangers, and trade mark Luiz freekicks. It was all about to change however, as the season progressed Luiz gave heroic performances at the back.
Flamboyant, Committed, Never shy of going forward, technically sound. Where have I seen all this before? Carvalho, but Carvalho was a brilliant defender. I remember how Carvalho would command and lead the defense in the absence of Terry and Cech (horrific head injury). And when I talk about Carvalho I always rated him above Terry as a defender. Blasphemy?
Chelsea had a strong finish to last season mainly due to the solid defending from Luiz and Cahill. The partnership was developing. Luiz has always been a sort of defender who would need his partner to keep a check on him. When playing for Brazil, Thiago Silva would do that, and at Chelsea Cahill was beginning to do just that. Resisting temptations and not going forward all the time, things were changing. Becoming more aware and anticipating more than ever, Luiz learned his way into the English game. his crucial goals, absolute stunners to go with his defending.
Stats (via EPL Index) show how important he was been for the Chelsea cause last season. Luiz faired really well last season when compared with other defenders in the league, Kompany considered as the best defender in the league and Rio had a great season last year.
Luiz doesn’t fare too well in Ground and Aerial duels but makes up for it as one of the best tacklers in the league. Defensive errors made by Luiz also become few and far between still behind Kompany who didn’t make even a single error through the course of last season. Interceptions made by Luiz makes him a clear no.1 as well as the chances created.
Luiz needs to work on his air and ground duels but there is no reason why he shouldn’t be considered as one of the best defenders in the league. He has established himself and there is a reason why Barcelona wanted him a ball playing defender who suits the Barcelona style of play.Luiz has been of great importance to the team as a whole and his presence meant points for Chelsea. Chelsea won over 65% of the games in which Luiz played, Chelsea scored 2.03 goals when he played and 1.78 when he didn’t and conceded 0.79 goals per game when he played while this number goes to 1.78 when he did not. (via WhoScored.com)
Chelsea scored 2.17 points whenever Luiz played and scored only 1.33 points when he didn’t play. Clearly the difference between winning and losing.
Clearly Luiz adds a lot to the team both in attacking sense and defensively. As I write this I draw a comparison with Carvalho. Reminds me of the goal he scored against Manchester United in that 3-0 win at the Bridge. Carvalho started the attack, made one his typical forward runs ended up in the United box and finished the move off in some style. Maybe we do have our next Carvalho.
There is a misconception that Luiz is not a Jose type defender, All he needs to do is to read the game and make a move. Just like Jose instructed Carvalho all those years ago. Luiz is 26 and still has got a long way to go, his best years are still ahead of him and I am thankful we didn’t sell him off. I never thought I’d say this, but I fell in love with Luiz and I am glad he snubbed being a cule to remain Chelsea Blue.
Way to go Luiz!