Before the start of the season the talk has mainly been about Sneijder, Pastore, Lukaku and the like for Chelsea, attacking players that should plug a lack of creativity that has been evident over the last season however there is one question that has been seemingly forgotten. What’s our best centre back partnership?
As John Terry is our captain it’s a safe bet that he is going to be one of the two centre backs and as Branislav Ivanovic is seemingly our first choice right back the second vacant spot must be fought between Alex and David Luiz. Both of these players have two very different styles, David Luiz is comfortable on the ball, likes to come out with it but is prone to making rash decisions, Alex on the other hand is a solid defender, he’s also one of those defenders who can hit some beautiful, rasping, free-kicks. Both of them are quality centre backs in their own right but there are obvious differences between the two.
The chalkboards above show the passes of both players in two very important matches where both featured at centre back, the contrast between the two is striking, Alex seems to rarely get forward as well as remaining central, Luiz on the other hand likes to roam, mainly to the right, however it is clear that he likes to come forward with the ball. Both of these chalkboards highlight how the defenders add something different to the centre back position.
David Luiz was a breath of fresh air when he came in January, even in his first appearance, a substitute one against Liverpool, he impressed with his comfortable nature on the ball, then he instantly became a cult hero when scoring against both Manchester teams at home. However, for all this there was his rash decision making, against Fulham away he gave away a penalty in the last minute, against Manchester United at home he could easily have been sent off and the most poignant was a poor error of judgement in the game against Manchester United away which resulted in Javier Hernandez scoring within the first minute.
When looking at the statistics the difference between the two is highlighted, Alex made 40 tackles during the season while Luiz only made 17 however Luiz made 43 interceptions compared to Alex’s 31. Luiz won 12 fouls and conceded 18 while Alex conceded 9 while only winning 3, this could suggest that Luiz gets forward more than Alex as well as suggesting that Luiz is more rash in the challenge.
In conclusion the question as to whether Alex or Luiz should play depends on a number of circumstances, the opposition that we are facing and the formation and threat that they pose. If away against one of the top opposition it would be best to go with Alex, he is a solid defender and doesn’t make as many rash decisions as Luiz does, however when it comes to home matches and we have more of the possession then it could be best to go with Luiz, comfortable on the ball and ready to make runs. This point is highlighted in the contrast between the two games against Manchester United, at home Luiz made a huge difference, was comfortable on the ball and scored a stunning goal, however against them away he was rash, made an error and was replaced by Alex at half time who had a fantastic second half performance.
For Luiz, chances in the future will come along as he is only 23 however Alex isn’t as young and may not be able to afford waiting around for John Terry to retire in order to cement a place in the first team, despite their difference styles they’re both very competent players and also with Ivanovic and John Terry, we have a fantastic array of centre backs at our disposal.