Talking Tactics

Standout players of 2018/19: David Luiz

By Adrian Clarke 15 Oct 2018

Adrian Clarke picks out how the Chelsea centre-back is a different player to that of last season

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Adrian Clarke selects the players who have caught his eye in 2018/19 so far. 

David Luiz (CHE)

One of the surprise success stories of the season so far has been David Luiz's re-emergence as a key man for Chelsea.

The Brazilian central defender drifted out of favour during the second half of last season but new head coach Maurizio Sarri has restored him to the starting XI, where he has been outstanding.

Only two teams have conceded fewer than Chelsea's five this season.

There was a perception that David Luiz performs best in a back three, where he is flanked by two other centre-backs, because of loose positional discipline.

Greater discipline

But in the early weeks of 2018/19, the 31-year-old has dispelled those thoughts, delivering calm and authoritative displays alongside Antonio Rudiger in a back four.

David Luiz was exceptional in the recent 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool.

He kept the Liverpool front men quiet, making five interceptions, two blocks and seven clearances.

Showing less inclination to wander out of position under Sarri, his decision-making has improved enormously.

One example of this is his decisions regarding when to tackle. He has won all five tackles attempted this term.

During 2017/18, which only amounted to an extra 119 minutes, David Luiz lost seven of the 18 tackles he attempted.

Luiz compared with last season
 David Luiz 2017/18 2018/19
Passes/90 52.8 76.8
Forward passes/90 16.8 28.4
Pass accuracy 85.0% 88.0%
Tackles won 61.1% 100.0%

His wonderful range of passing has really caught the eye too.

Making 24 more passes per 90 minutes for Sarri than he did in 2017/18 under Antonio Conte, the Brazilian is central to the way Chelsea build from the back.

Springboard for attacks

His willingness to play crisp passes, short or long, but almost always in a forward direction, acts as a springboard for a stream of attacks each time.

His ability to switch play with pinpoint diagonal passes, or look for runners in behind with balls over the top, provides Chelsea with a dimension they lacked for most of last term.

It is little wonder Sarri wanted to find a way to get him into the team.

Playing with greater levels of self-control, on and off the ball, there is no doubt David Luiz has been one of the most impressive centre-backs in the Premier League this term.

Also in this series

Part 1: Standout players of 2018/19: Lukasz Fabianski
Part 2: Standout players of 2018/19: Jose Holebas
Part 4: Standout players of 2018/19: Lucas Torreira
Part 5: Standout players 2018/19: Bernardo Silva

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