Given that David Luiz made his first Chelsea debut at Stamford Bridge up against Liverpool, it seemed like fate when Antonio Conte confirmed this week that the Brazilian would make his second debut up against the Reds again. In place of the injured John Terry, Luiz played alongside Gary Cahill in the back line, but failed to produce a convincing performance in a disappointing 2-1 defeat as the Blues suffered their first reverse of the season.
Whilst Luiz cannot be blamed for any of the goals, the Brazilian struggled with Liverpool’s pressing game and free flowing movement, struggling to keep up with the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Sadio Mane as the Reds’ front three switched and interchanged throughout the first half. Time and time again, Luiz was dragged out into a midfield role by the man he was marking, allowing other Liverpool players to make runs in behind, centre-back Joel Matip even taking advantage of his poor positioning on one occasion.
The number 30 showed that he hasn’t changed at all with his battling and physical nature, cutting his nose badly when challenging Sadio Mane in the air. Luiz’s passion was clear for all to see, and his work rate could not be faulted on a tough night for the whole Chelsea team, not just the Brazilian centre-half. The fans at Stamford Bridge seemed happy to see him back, but his performance still left question marks over his ability after such a big money move.
His stat of three shots, more than any other Chelsea player, speaks volumes about his display, as he contributed more as an attacking threat at set pieces than he did in his own half, with some poor marking allowing Dejan Lovren in. In the first half, his he was restricted to set pieces, but in the second his forward runs from defence helped to push Liverpool back on to the defensive and applied pressure as the Blues sought an equaliser.
That said, for a 6ft3in to lose all four of his defensive aerial duels is questionable to say the least, particularly up against a far from aerially powerful front line. He was fortunate with one of those aerial duels late on as Thibaut Courtois’ superb save denied substitute Divock Origi from embarrassing the 29-year-old in front of the Stamford Bridge faithful on his return.
For many, it still seems bizarre that Antonio Conte, a harsh disciplinarian, would opt to bring in an error prone Brazilian who likes to roam forward with no care for the gaps he leaves behind. Friday night’s display showed that he struggled to keep up with the pace and movement of the Premier League, and it may be that he is simply readjusting after a period in the slower and less competitive Ligue 1, but he must step up his performances in the coming weeks if he is to retain a first team place.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Ben Sutherland.