David Luiz: Back and blue
news Sat 5 Nov 2016
Since making his first appearance after re-joining the Blues against Liverpool in September, David Luiz has featured in every game for Antonio Conte’s improving team.
His role in the side, game management and today’s fixture against Everton were just a few of the topics covered as the Brazilian spoke exclusively to the official Chelsea website.
David Luiz, it’s fair to say, is enjoying his return to Chelsea.
On the pitch, he has been a pivotal part of our impressive recent run of form, playing as the central figure in a back three, while away from the field of play it’s been an effortless transition back into life in the capital.
As popular as ever, he attracted a huge crowd at the Stamford Bridge Megastore earlier this week when he appeared at a signing session alongside fellow defender Marcos Alonso, and he will be back at the stadium later today when we play sixth-placed Everton, looking to secure a fifth consecutive Premier League win.
‘The last games are in the past so we need to prepare ourselves for the next battle,’ he tells the official Chelsea website, as we sit down in the Cobham canteen to conduct this interview.
‘It will be a tough game, Everton have some amazing players and a good philosophy but we must play our football and be careful in possession.
‘I hope we can continue to play well and win games because it gives you a good feeling.’
After beating Hull City 2-0 when the new-look 3-4-3 formation was implemented from the start of a game for the first time, we maintained the winning habit with successive home victories over Leicester and Manchester United.
Perhaps our most impressive performance of late, however, was last week away at in-form Southampton, where goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa secured the points. It was the fourth consecutive league game in which our defence hadn’t been breached and, in truth, the home side seldom looked like scoring.
‘You need to prepare and plan for each game in the best way,’ says David Luiz. ‘Sometimes, when you play away, you need to understand that the opposition might have more possession of the ball.
‘The home team can often be more excited playing in front of their own fans so you have to play with intelligence and wait, like a sniper, for an opportunity. Southampton was that type of game. We found ourselves in good positions and we shot to kill.
‘It’s important to understand when you need to play that type of game and when you need to impose yourself and be more dominant. For me, the key is to try to understand the best plan for each specific game.’
When asked recently about the qualities each of the players in a three-man defence needs to possess, Conte said the central figure must ‘be more tactical, reflect more, find the right position and call the line up and down,’ a role in which David Luiz, operating between Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill, has excelled.
His obvious leadership qualities have also come to the fore, with the 29-year-old regularly seen offering advice and encouragement to his team-mates from a position on the pitch where he is able to assess the play better than most.
‘I have the best job in the world and it doesn’t matter which system we play,’ he adds. ‘You need to do what’s required in your particular role but I want to do my best for the team, not for myself. I have to be alert, to look around and to cover because it’s important for me to have that vision.
‘I think Azpi and Gary have more opportunities on the ball than me in this formation but against Leicester I was able to get on the ball a lot. When you play with three in defence you try to play out from the back into midfield so they can create more.
‘I have that side of my personality, to be a leader and to organise. A leader needs to be available to give something for others. I’ve had that in my character since I was young but of course I understand that now there is a responsibility, as somebody who has been here before and played many games, to use the experiences I’ve picked up in my career to help the youngsters.’
There have been many outstanding performers over the course of the last month, none more so than Victor Moses who, at right wing-back, is playing in a position he has no previous experience of.
David Luiz, who made his 150th appearance for the club in last week’s EFL Cup game at West Ham, has been impressed with the manner in which the Nigerian has adapted to the new demands being placed upon him.
‘Mr Conte gives us a lot of information in order for us to understand our role on the pitch and Victor has taken it all in,’ he says. ‘He’s playing very well and when he gets the ball he’s so strong, he has quality, pace and he can go one against one.
‘He can also defend very well because he has all the attributes, he just needs to get that defensive sense, which he’s learning, because he’s never played in that position before. He’s doing very well and I’m really happy for him because he deserves it, he’s a great guy.’
Football aside, David Luiz has quickly taken to London life once again, and the man renowned for his cheerful personality will have even more reason to smile next month, as he explains.
‘I’m a lucky guy because I’ve lived in Lisbon, Paris and now London again, three great cities,’ he explains. ‘There is fantastic entertainment, so much to do here and I’m living close to where I was before.
‘My family will be coming over in December because they are taking care of my charity back in Brazil right now, so they will spend Christmas with me. It will be nice to have my mum, dad, sister and nephews with me, I’ll be very happy. They are my oxygen.’