It felt like the English Premier League hadn’t been on pause for 100 days after the watching world witnessed another abject defensive display from Arsenal. If anything, it felt like things had picked up from where they left off in March. Indeed, it was business as usual at the Etihad as Pep’s Man City ran riot.
Only, the 3-0 loss that a rusty Arsenal suffered was in part down to a David Luiz horrorshow. Ok, it was all down to David Luiz’s mistakes. Naturally, the Brazillian came in for an avalanche of criticism after the game with many on social media poking fun at the defender, as well as dominating the sports headlines.
In the Sky studios, even fewer punches were pulled after Jamie Carragher blasted Luiz and said he would never play for Arsenal again or even in the Premier League for that matter.
Luiz subsequently came out and accepted blame for the heavy defeat, which in many ways, was the only thing he could really do. Although very few actually do put their head above the parapet when the whole world is taking aim so he probably deserves a little bit of credit there.
The criticism he received on the night was more than justified after allowing Raheem Sterling to score and then getting sent off after bringing down Riyad Mahrez, ironically, a player that Arsenal wanted to sign when Arsene Wenger was at the club. But to call Luiz’s career a disaster and label the 33-year-old as a terrible footballer is grossly unfair.
It’s worth pointing out that a lot of the noise is coming from the Arsenal fans who are probably in a state of mourning after the loss against Man City put paid to any Champions League hopes. That’s at least the way it looks as of the 18th of June given that the faltering Gunners are priced at 20/1 to finish in the top four. You can all of a sudden understand the extreme frustration in North London, and the need to look for a scapegoat now that they face another season without Champions League football at the Emirates.
But should Luiz be written off completely after what happened at Manchester City’s undoubtedly imposing Etihad Stadium?
Put some respect on his name
Luiz’s horrorshow against Man City was his 500th appearance in professional football. Regardless of what Jamie Carragher or Gary Neville say about him winging it through his career, you don’t earn half a thousand caps by accident. In the professional game, you get found out sooner rather than later if you can’t cut it, at the very least, you don’t enjoy a 14-year career at the top by pulling the wool over people’s eyes. More than one manager has looked at Luiz and thought he was very good.
If you want to look at it another way, Luiz’s accumulated transfers over the course of his career have totaled more than £106m. David Beckham’s total is just over £33m. You may argue that says more about the modern game than anything else, but then Luiz has represented Brazil on 56 different occasions, arguably the greatest national team to have ever existed in the history of football.
Luiz also contributes many goals from the back; over the course of his career, he has scored 34 goals and assisted 26. In other words, Luiz has been involved in the scoring of 60 goals during his time as a player. Jamie Carragher was only involved in 18 and has played 237 more times than Luiz. Look, stats can tell you whatever story you want them to but in Luiz’s case, his numbers don’t lie.
Could it be that age has caught up with him?
David Luiz turned 33 in April and that is normally the time where your powers as a Premier League defender begin to wane. Once your legs go, the world’s best players will run past you and expose your weakness to the world, the tidal wave of ridicule that follows that can often lead people to forget how good a player was in their prime.
If you go back to the summer of 2019 when Frank Lampard became the Chelsea boss and quickly hurried Luiz out the door and onto Arsenal, you will begin to get a sense of where the narrative changed. Lampard’s attitude in the media was dismissive and painted Luiz in, should we say, an unflattering light.
Obviously, a disappointing 2-1 loss when they met six months later at the Emirates did nothing to strengthen Luiz’s claim that Lampard had made a mistake by selling him, but the damage had already been done with Luiz’s career accomplishments consigned to the scrapheap. Whereas the truth may just be that the Brazilian is battling to keep up with the pace of play nowadays after enjoying a glittering career.
Luiz is Luiz
Have there been better defenders in the Premier League? Yes. Does David Luiz fail to apply himself at certain times? Yes. Could he concentrate more? Surely. No one is saying Luiz is the model professional but his quirks make him the player he is. And that player has won the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, Ligue 1 title and been selected in FIFA’s 2015 team of the year. It’s trendy to slaughter him, but he’s enjoyed a fantastic career and will retire a satisfied man with lots of money in the bank.