David Luiz and Antonio Rüdiger started their official (i.e. non-preseason) center back partnership with a clean sheet last weekend against Huddersfield Town, but things got a bit more troublesome yesterday against Arsenal, with the Gunners putting two past Kepa Arrizabalaga and missing a handful of additional clean cut chances. While the defensive breakdown wasn’t just the defenders’ fault, questions will be asked of their performance as well.
In his post-match comments however, David Luiz was concentrating just on the positives: the general “entertainment” of the game and the team’s second-half response to Arsenal’s first-half comeback. All too often last season, Chelsea collapsed after conceding a goal or two. While we came close to doing that last night as well, in the end the team managed to stem the time and then turn things around in the second half.
“I think it was a great game. Those [neutrals] who were watching the game [yesterday] may have enjoyed it more than the players who were involved in it!”
“The best thing was to see the team’s maturity, especially in the second half when we were calm. Usually in a game where you are winning 2-0 and the opponent makes it 2-2, you suffer the third goal.”
“Instead, we knew how to be mature. We got back for the second half, controlled the game well and got the [winning] goal at the right moment.”
-David Luiz; source: ESPN Brasil
David Luiz spent most of last season out of contention due to injuries, with youngster Andreas Christensen rising to the occasion and enjoying the veteran’s absence to claim a place in the starting eleven. It was expected that with the new coach in town, the transition to the younger player would continue, but certainly for now, what we’re seeing is a second renaissance for David Luiz instead. He may be 31 and have only one year left on his contract, but his ability on the ball and his quick acclimatization to the new system in general has put him on track to play a key role once again.