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David Luiz: Determining His Best Position On The Pitch

If one thing has become painfully obvious in the last month or two, it is that David Luiz is not a centre back. In Chelsea’s recent games they have conceded goals like they haven’t done in a long, long time. The most obvious example of this was the 5-3 loss to Arsenal after which Jamie Redknapp observantly pointed out that David Luiz doesn’t want to play as a centre back, or at least he doesn’t look like he wants to. So where should he play?

Luiz can’t seem to play at the back. To put it gently, he is a liability to the Blues defence. He hasn’t even been at the club for a full season yet and has given away numerous penalties in a Chelsea shirt. Not only does he directly threaten the Chelsea goal by giving away unforced and frankly stupid penalties, but he also leaves the defence open many times each game. When he plays, he bursts forward on a regular basis, leaving his partner (be it Terry, Ivanovic or Alex) exposed and alone at the back. This, in a slightly less obvious way, threatens the Chelsea goal.

Recently he has come in from criticism for all these reasons from the pundits. However is it all bad? Maybe he is simply being played in the wrong position? While watching the Chelsea game against Genk (the one in which the blues ran riot winning 5-0), I was struck by the comment of Ray Wilkins that Luiz “sprays the ball around like a central midfielder”. He really can play the ball around well. The biggest problem for Chelsea now being that the wily Wilkins is no longer at the club to knock this gem of an idea into Andre Villas-Boas’s head.

Not only does he spray the ball around well but he has great feet. The feet of a Brazilian. We regularly see Luiz bursting forward from the back, going past numerous players before playing a challenging ball to the forwards or midfielders, showing just how good his technical ability is. Unfortunately, he just as equally loses the ball by trying to drive forward in the same fashion.

So his technical skills still need a little refining. However I feel they are already close to the required ability of a central midfielder. The larger problem is his frame of mind. He holds the ball for too long, makes tackles he doesn’t need to and picks up needless bookings – regularly. He would require significant training in this department. The biggest problem is that he is almost too excited and too keen to get involved. Although this is a problem, would you rather have to tell a player to relax or get them excited about playing football?

So to me David Luiz looks like he has the natural ability of a central midfielder. However, he needs training to really succeed as a midfielder. However will Villas-Boas take the plunge? We will have to wait and see.

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  1. The Gaffer

    November 20, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Based on his performance today, Luiz should be playing in midfield for Chelsea. He’s too much of a liability in the back four.

    The Gaffer

  2. muggins

    November 18, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    david luiz didnt play against arsenal muggins

  3. Revis

    November 16, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Mate. David Luiz is a bloody legend. He can play wherever he likes as long as it’s on the pitch.

  4. The Ace Of Spades

    November 15, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    one thing that is painfully obvious is that you know nothing about football. david luiz will be a great centre back.

  5. nicc

    November 15, 2011 at 8:27 am

    “The most obvious example of this was the 5-3 loss to Arsenal after which Jamie Redknapp observantly pointed out that David Luiz doesn’t want to play as a centre back, or at least he doesn’t look like he wants to.”

    David Luiz didnt play in the Chelsea v Arsenal match – he was an unused sub.

    • Mark Lilley

      November 15, 2011 at 11:32 am

      Sorry you are correct I got mixed up what I meant was the 1-1 draw with Genk.

  6. ish

    November 15, 2011 at 5:06 am

    luiz is a CB just a very modern one and he isnt positionally fully comfortable yet, partly because chelsea as a whole are not comfortable with the high line they play.

    for instance at barcelona he would be much better suited because what regularly happens is when the two fullbacks attack the CB’s stretch wide and busquets moves into the hole to form a 3 man defensive line. then if either puyol or pique(never both) go forward their are still 2 central defenders to cover.

    at chelsea mikel isnt really comfortable in the CB role, if he was i think he would be a better player, romeu offers an interesting option because he is deployed as a CB in some instances and so knows his role well.

    currently luiz can be a liability because if a team is willing to leave a striker on the wings and risk not covering the fullbacks it does give them that ability to run in behind a slow central defender like terry.

    chelsea’s defensive records have all come from a deep defensive line, basically terry and another defender(carvalho or alex) who were strong in the air that could stop any aerial balls coming through, cech is a good shot stopper and confident in the air, off his line he used to be quicker but still very good, basically it was very very hard for a team to get in behind the chelsea defense from central positions so they relied on long shots or utilising the wings.

    with the highline it means that any ball over a defender has a good chance of a 1 on 1. The lack of quick closing down of midfielders gives them too long too to place the ball. chelsea is trying to change its system but its players arent able to adjust completely, if anything i think AVB might be found out and go back to a more pragmatic approach.

  7. bluemoon70

    November 14, 2011 at 9:23 am

    A team like Chelsea is a difficult place to try to learn a new position. If he was at a less demanding club I’d say do it, but I doubt the owner will have the patience for this.

  8. ChElSeA LoVe

    November 14, 2011 at 6:59 am

    So If one thing has become painfully obvious in this season, it is that David Luiz is not a centre back, it is that Villas-Boas is hot.

  9. Jo, The Human Being.

    November 14, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Any defender in general gets the urge to score a goal or help in an attack every now and then. For example, John Terry. Yes, he is a legendary defender, but in some matches he leads up the attack.
    I absolutely agree that David Luiz is not a defender, but he chose to be from the beginning of his career. It’s like Gerard Pique’s story; when he was a youngster at Barcelona still playing with the reserves, he was an attacker. And Fontas (another La Masia product) was a midfielder and now he plays as a centre back alongside Marc Barta who was in fact a winger…

    Anyways, back to Luiz, if Villas Boas trained him well to be a cm, there would no longer be any use for Ramires or Oriol Romeu (which ever position he’ll use). Luiz was bought to be a defender, he must stay a defender and a defender he shall be… Till death does him and football apart. Muahahahahahahaha (evil laugh from Wenger)

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