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David Luiz, midfielder

Lintao Zhang

Well, it looks like the David Luiz-in-midfield experiment is set to continue. The centre back was moved to the double pivot in the late stages against Nordsjaelland and played a full ninety minutes there during Chelsea's victory over Monterrey in the Club World Cup, and now Rafa Benitez is talking about using him there more often:

When we have more bodies and options at centre-back, it will be easier to use [David Luiz] in midfield. It depends on the game. He can do both [roles] really well. He understands the game. He is very competitive, and with a good mentality.

I encourage him to try things. I would be really worried of players were not trying things in the final third. He's a player who likes to play and wants to help and win. He likes to be seen, to take a risk where it's necessary. I encourage him to try things … to do the easy things as well but there are times when he has to try things.

-Source: Guardian.

Obviously, it'll be very difficult to move David Luiz into the midfield on a regular basis until John Terry's fit again, but it's a fun sort of idea. It's also not a new one. There have been voices claiming that the Brazilian should be moved into 'holding midfield' more or less since he signed form Benfica. Why are we seeing it now?

The main reason is that it's what circumstances demand. David Luiz's main weakness, his lack of discipline, makes fitting into a pure holding role a la Claude Makalele virtually impossible -- from a positional perspective it's more important to remain disciplined as a midfield holder than it is as a centre back. Now that the Blues have moved away from 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1, it's more reasonable to try him further up.

We're also very low on options in the pivot. Oriol Romeu is out of action for the season. John Obi Mikel's suspended for the match against Aston Villa and will miss significant time thanks to Africa Cup of Nations duty in January. Meanwhile, Ramires is subject to a bad habit of being woefully out of position (and is a relatively poor passer on top of that) while Frank Lampard's tactical nous are counterbalanced by his declining physical powers.

All in all, it's not a good mix.

While many will frame any push to get David Luiz higher up the pitch as removing a liability from the defence, but the reality is he's probably the best option Chelsea have to partner Mikel in the middle at this point. While he's paying attention, his defending is excellent, his runs forward can be devastating and he's the best passer from deep on the team. That being pushed higher up the pitch serves to mitigate the effect of his occasional carelessness is icing on the cake.

I'm curious to see what becomes of this. We'll probably see David Luiz start in the pivot against Villa, and, if successful, he could take away some of the need for the Blues to pick up a new central midfielder in January. If not, we still have a very fine centre back on our hands. Should be fun.

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