Getting The Best Out Of David Luiz

John Stones and David Luiz are the two most expensive defenders who have played football and whilst you may not think it they have more than their expensive price tags in common. Both are comfortable on the ball and like to bring the ball out of defence, both are prone to make costly mistakes whilst playing their natural game and both really aren’t ever going to be remembered as world class defenders.

Both players I imagine started out as midfielders who couldn’t get a game playing in their preferred position and subsequently decided to drop back into defence where at least they were getting a game and they were sure of seeing a lot of the ball. Yet whilst Stones seems to be stumbling from one mistake to another for both club and country David Luiz has been putting in a series of impressive displays for Chelsea. The reason for this difference is how they are deployed, and protected, by their respective managers.

Whilst at Manchester City, Stones is part of a flat(ish) back four and partnered by Otamendi, another who makes the list of most expensive defenders, David Luiz has less responsibility at Chelsea because he is playing as part of a back three.

In today’s modern game it is expected that one, and usually both, of a team’s full backs will be one of their sides main offensive weapons and whilst this is a bonus going forward it places added pressure on the centre halves to be able to defend, and defend resolutely. In Stones’ case he was bought more for his ability to build Manchester City’s attacks from the back than his defensive prowess which means Manchester City’s back line consists of at least three players who are motivated to attack the opposition goal. The result, the remaining defender is expected to be the defensive lynchpin who covers for his absent colleagues, a position I expect even Otamendi’s mother wouldn’t be too keen on handing her son. This is why I feel John Stones is currently making so many high profile mistakes.

At Chelsea, whilst they still have the two attacking full backs, when David Luiz wants to launch himself and Chelsea up the park he can do so knowing that there are two defenders behind him who will be able to cover any gaps. Similarly, when Azpilcueta makes a surge forward Luiz and Cahill are there to cover his back.

When, or if, Vincent Kompany returns from injury it will be interesting to see whether Pep decides to restore the Belgian in a centre-half partnership, thus relegating Otamendi to the bench, or whether he takes a leaf out of Conte’s book and plays Stones, Otamendi and Kompany together as a back three.

In the meantime I expect to see Chelsea’s defence to continue their miserly ways whilst up in Manchester, Stones and his teammates to continue to look good going forward and an accident waiting to happen at the back.

Craig Dawson Fails His Powderpuff Boys Audition

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At the start of the season I highlighted the change in the modern defender and especially the decline of the hard man centre half. These dinosaurs are slowly being replaced by a new variety of defender who instead of revelling in the physicality of the challenge, often duck the confrontation and if they are unlucky enough to have to make a tackle, usually role about in agony until they realise the referee isn’t going to award them a free kick.

The two main culprits amongst the Premier League defensive ranks this season are David Luiz and Nicolas Otamendi and over the course of the season I have challenged myself to find a third in order to create a new super group, The Powderpuff Boys.

Sadly, Craig Dawson of West Brom failed his audition at the weekend when, caressed by Nolito’s head he simply looked at the referee and his team mates with an expression which asked “what’s that idiot trying to do?”

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Instead of looking bemused the correct approach when feeling anything more than a breath of fresh air on your face is to roll around as if you have been sprayed with acid or, if a little more serious, roll around on the floor as if you have just been tasered. However, a word of warning, the camera is always watching, something David Luiz obviously forgot in the clip below:

With Craig Dawson ruled out as the third member of the Powderpuff Boys the search goes on for their final member.

The Powderpuff Boys

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Football and footballers have changed a lot since I started watching the beautiful game as a young kid and in the majority these changes have been for the good. The launch of the Premiership and the subsequent race for every more bulging sacks of cash from broadcasters, like Sky, have brought exotic players into our clubs and with them they have brought a different outlook on what it means to be a professional footballer.

True, with them they brought the histrionics which are sadly now commonplace even in our school playgrounds but they also brought the understanding that to have a career as footballer requires a dedication and professional attitude that may have saved a talent like Paul Gascoigne earning a living by trying to get a laugh from the colour of somebody else’s skin. Yet, like so many others, I feel nostalgic about some values which seem to have disappeared from the modern game and this nostalgia has been heightened as I have been watching the opening games of this season.

One particular blight I have noticed, and which I would love to stamp out, is nowadays a centre half is just as likely as to be found rolling over in pretend agony as the South American wingers we used to laugh at as children. What would the likes of Bruce, Pallister, Adams, Vidic and of course our own Overson and Cranson make of the play acting from today’s supposedly rough, tough defenders?

This change of attitude is most notable in Gary Cahill’s whining at being mugged by Leroy Fer. Yes, it was a foul, and I am one of the most vocal when it comes to the standard of today’s referees, but the decision was made and the goal given so just get on with it. Stop whinging like a spoilt kid because I am sure there are a score of forwards out there who could lay claim to the referee missing a mugging by yourself.

However even though, for the moment, Cahill doesn’t make it into the Powderpuff Boys, his newly resigned teammate, David Luiz, who is awarded his place not just for the amount of times he is pushed off the ball but for the number of times he doesn’t even want to make the tackle in the first place. Watch Brazil’s humiliation by Germany and you will see on more than a couple of occasions Luiz looks up before deciding he doesn’t fancy making the contact. What would Vinnie say?

Luiz is joined in the Powderpuff Boys by another South American, this time an Argentinian, Nicolas Otamendi. Admittedly I have only watched three of the games he has played in this season but in those three matches he has seems to have spent more time rolling around on the floor than with a football at his feet. If you don’t believe me watch the clip below of Otamendi getting “head-butted” by Neymar a few years ago and ask yourself what would Vinnie say? 9.8 for artistic merit!

Over the remainder of the season I will be looking out for the third member of the Powderpuff Boys and I will let you know when I find him. In the meantime if you have any suggestions please let me know.