New recruit helping to spark life into Chelsea’s ailing season.
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After 75 minutes of two blunt attacks bludgeoning each other into a stalemate, and boring the crowd into dreaming about the final whistle, up stepped Chelsea’s saviour. Not the 50 million pound man, Fernando Torres, but a more unlikely hero: David Luiz.
Luiz is the perfect cult figure. He already has a nickname in ‘Sideshow Bob’ – because of his resemblance to the Simpsons character; in his every movement he embodies the likeable exuberance of an energetic teenager; and he is developing a priceless knack for turning big games.
It is ironic that the crucial goals scored by Luiz, which won yesterday’s game against Manchester City, and which sparked a 2-1 comeback victory against Manchester United three weeks ago, are those which look like they may secure the lucrative Champions League football that onlooking owner Roman Abramovich demands. The same Champions League football, that is, which Fernando Torres was bought to provide.
The beauty of Luiz lies in the unrefined tenacity that is a hallmark of his play, and it is this quality that makes him a perfect fit for the tumultuous fashion and frenetic pace in which Premier League games are played. He flies into every tackle as if it were his last, and he drives his team-mates forward as though he was their inspirational captain – a position which he surely may one day hold.
Sunday’s game against Man City was conspicuous by its lack of creativity. A Chelsea side bereft of width were perfect fodder for the sponge-like defensive core of Manchester City, which soaked up the opposition’s direct attacks with ease.
But David Luiz won a free-kick through his desire to make something happen; tripped by Micah Richards whilst desperately searching for space in a final third of the pitch saturated by leaden attackers and defenders. From the resulting ball in, Luiz grabbed his chance and forced home a header to provide the spark that seemed so unlikely to come from anywhere else.
Luiz looks to be one of the most fortunate signings of the season. He was brought in by the Blues not to score goals, but to provide a much needed lift to an ageing and weakening back line. Arguably, it was not even a striker or centre-back that Chelsea needed the most from the January transfer window, but a wide-man.
Chelsea’s tight midfield, not helped by the unbalanced wing-back pairing of Ashley Cole and the ill-suited Branislav Ivanovic, is crying out for some creativity from the wings, particularly from the right flank. It is hard to see Torres, a player who enjoys converting crosses, maximising his talent in this present Chelsea set up – a set up which is starting to look plodding and predictable rather than pacy and powerful.
So how fortunate Chelsea are that they have discovered a player with more strings to his bow than they had imagined, and who may yet save their season. At present David Luiz is almost single-handedly galvanising the Blues. If some of Chelsea’s old guard can muster one last effort and join his revolution then Chelsea may yet prove a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League, and In Europe.
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