David Luiz is back to his Playstation version
Back in the day, during David Luiz's first stint at Chelsea, Manchester United legend Gary Neville labelled the Brazilian a "PlayStation defender who played as though he was being controlled by a 10-year-old". The curly haired Brazilian divides opinion but under Antonio Conte's tutelage, he showed a newfound resilience that prompted GNev to postulate that he had turned a corner. Then, at Wembley on Saturday, Luiz returned to his old neighbourhood.
He was absolutely atrocious, directly at fault for all the goals Spurs scored. The result ended Chelsea’s unbeaten run and revived questions about Maurizio Sarri. Chief among them: can his sides play defence when they must? The entire Blues squad was abject at Wembley, failing to treat the game with sufficient importance. Perhaps the squad became conceited with talk of going unbeaten but Luiz's performance, in particular, was absolutely shambolic. Whatever corner the Brazilian turned under Antonio Conte, Sarri's philosophy has led him back to his old ways.
The fiery Italian, who danced and stomped around like he could really use a smoke, insisted his defenders remain compact at all times and not lose their shape, Luiz helped Chelsea to the league title in Conte’s first campaign but spectacularly fell out with the manager after criticizing his tactics following a Champions League defeat to AS Roma. As mentioned, Luiz has divided opinion throughout his career. Many question whether he has the right attributes to play as a centre-back, a position wherein one is expected to remain 100% focused at all times. Maurizio Sarri is more relaxed than Conte, perhaps because he always has a fag handy. He emphasises attack but expects his squad to defend from the front.
Against Tottenham, the forward players were lethargic, failed to press high, struggled to track back and were physically inferior in the middle of the pitch. Jorginho was embarrassed by both Dele Alli and Son Heung-min. Remember, Chelsea have Andreas Christensen and Gary Cahill sitting on the bench. Sarri can make changes if he wishes. Both players must be contented with playing in the Europa League. More defensive lapses from Luiz may provide an opportunity for one or the other. Much loved by Chelsea fans, Luiz's positivity in the dressing room is infectious, but his engaging personality may not be enough to keep him at the club next summer.
His current deal expires at season's end. There have been talks in the media about an extension. With performances like the one he showed against Spurs, those talks may be interrupted. He turns 32 in April. His future is a tightrope walk that leaves little margin for error. His time at the top is winding down, as it does for all players. I would be a shame for Chelsea fans to remember him as a player who cost them so many points through his defensive frailties. Certainly, the club won't want him grooming his replacement as John Terry did Cahill. The geezer must match his personality with assured performances on the pitch. That’s all that really matters.