They’ll be no sackcloth and ashes from this Chelsea supporter regarding the sending off that never was – it’s about time we had some luck where referees were concerned and this doesn’t even begin to make up for Foy’s performance at Loftus Road. All that said, Luiz needs to start growing out of these gaffs. I recently described him as a cute, adorable puppy who occasionally shits on your new cream carpet and that’s all well and good for a while – but he has had his proverbial nose rubbed in it on a few occasions now and it’s time that he realised that these lapses cannot be tolerated indefinitely.
Of course experience will improve his decision making which currently is questionable, especially under pressure. He needn’t look that far for a role model as John Terry demonstrates perfectly how defending is not always about athleticism and bravery although he has the latter in spades even if the former has diminished with age. Reading the pattern of play and second guessing what the opposition will do is as important, if not more so than the physical aspect and should eliminate the need for last gasp, desperate scenarios which would see us disadvantaged.
Even with his very obvious foibles, you can’t help but like Luiz – his enthusiasm is refreshing as are some of his forays through the middle – he lacks a bit of defensive discipline but you can’t bemoan that too much – he is Brazilian after all. It’s also been some time since we had a proper character at the club – someone who is a bit off the wall – I like that bit of madness, legends are rarely metronomes of the game. AVB seems to agree, predicting that Luiz will be a great player, only time will prove if he and I are right, but in the mean time, I urge those not as enamoured with his reckless style to cut him a little slack that he could be a legend for us – one way or another.
Speaking of legends, Lampard looked less than happy at being subbed last weekend. I must admit I was quite surprised by this attitude as he has always been a professional of the highest calibre. He has gone through (short) periods in his career where he has been benched and has always accepted this with good grace and understanding. I’m hoping he was more frustrated with himself for missing that penalty and then being denied the opportunity to make up for it, than through any perceived injustice at being the one making way for the substitution.
He has recently spoken publicly at his desire to end his playing days at Chelsea and then continue with us in some capacity so he must have made peace in his mind the winding down of his playing time as frustrating as this must be for someone who has had such a distinguished career. He will invariably be used more sparingly to ensure that when he is on the pitch his strengths will not be diluted by the inevitable physical limitations which come with age.
I still believe he has a lot to give and should in most cases still be one of the first names on the team sheet, but this does not mean that he necessarily finishes every game. He needs to accept this as there are no guarantees of being untouchable in today’s game for anyone and that is as it should be.
The game against Newcastle demonstrated us doing all the things that we have been resolutely not doing for the past few weeks. We bought the ball forward , we pressed, we fought for every ball, we put accurate crosses in, we tracked back, we put some effort in, we had shots on target, we allowed them no time to settle, we played with some pace – one does have to wonder why we have had to put up with some of the dross we have seen recently when they can play like this.
I’d imagine Pardew was particularly vexed at Luiz not having been sent off as we already had a numerical advantage with Mata on the pitch – such was his work-rate that you would be forgiven in thinking that there were two of him on the pitch – he seemed to be everywhere at the same time. If it wasn’t the diminutive Spaniard giving them grief, then it was Sturridge running Raylor ragged time after time – the youngster was unlucky that he only had one goal to his name by the time the final whistle went.
I’m not sure what caused this sudden change in attitude – could it be the knowledge that Anelka and Alex were being permitted to leave, which would strongly suggest new blood in January….or is that me being overly suspicious? As an aside, I will be sorry to see them both go – they were good professionals who never gave us any problems – and I think they’ll be missed, by me certainly.
As is customary, I am writing this before yesterdays do or die tie with Valencia – did we win? I hope for AVB that we did. It’s a big week what with City on Monday too – hopefully our performance against Newcastle was not a flash in the pan as every player needs to be on song to stop the marauding machine that is Manchester City. Time to re-establish our credentials – come on Chelsea!