Second position in the league, five straight clean sheets – things could not be getting any better for the men from Stamford Bridge.
After an year long hiatus, the 2014-15 champions are once again back into the reckoning for the English League title and it has been a total team effort. The offense, midfield and defense have all been clicking, the manager has been making the right moves and the club looks to have put the fiasco from last year behind them.
A major reason for the strong defensive showing and the all round great display has been new recruit, David Luiz. Playing as the central focal point of a back three, Luiz has blossomed into the leadership role at Chelsea. Flanked by Gary Cahill and Cesar Azipilicueta, Luiz has been the voice at the back and looks set to take over from John Terry as the leader of the Blues backline. After spending 2 seasons in Paris, David Luiz signed again for the London Club after Antonio Conte saw something that the rest of the world missed.
Often seen as too erratic, inconsistent and error prone, David Luiz did not enjoy an overly successful first stint in England. Although he has always had the built and physical prowess of a top defender, his mentality and temperament have often let him and his teams down. Luiz is often caught out of position, or strays too far forward. He is seen as having a too attacking an attitude to be a great defender in his position.
However, his time with the French Champions PSG seems to have matured the player beyond reason. Luiz is now able to command the entire backline, make the right decisions at the right time and has cut down on his mistakes. At the age of 29, Luiz is entering the golden period for central defenders. His ability to score goals and assist on the offensive front has never been in doubt. But this season, Luiz is a rock at the back. He is protecting his goal keeper and fellow defenders. His speed has helped him to cover his teammates, recover loose balls and make game saving tackles.
Conte is playing a 3-4-3 system which converts to a 5-4-1 without the ball. Luiz plays as the axis at the back around which the entire defense and spine of the team is built. Gary Cahill, Kurt Zouma or even John Terry was suppoed to be the main guy at the back at the start of the season. But injuries to both Zouma and Terry combined with the poor defensive form of Gary Cahill has meant that David Luiz has come out the lead man at the back. He has taken his opportunity with both hands and if things keep continuing on the same path, it will be hard to bet against Luiz coming out as one of the top defenders in the game this season.
It is still early doors at the moment, but with no European commitments, it looks like David Luiz and Chelsea are in good hands this season and Antonio Conte looks like the real deal who can land another league title to West London.
Photo by Ben Tavener