When David Luiz made the switch to Arsenal on deadline day, many were wondering the rationale behind the move.
It would seem Chelsea were selling arguably their “best defender” and there was no room for anyone to come in.
Reports have now suggested Lampard was angry at a once upon a time teammate for refusing to bow to his tactics and it would seem the same issue could surface for the Brazilian’s current club.
Frank Lampard was “annoyed” by David Luiz’s refusal to follow his philosophy by excessively using the long ball during Chelsea’s pre-season game against RB Salzburg. It is something that could also be an issue for Arsenal manager Unai Emery at Arsenal.
Luiz was a big part of the Blues’ pre-season and started the match against the Austrian side. Chelsea eventually ran out 5-3 winners, but Lampard was annoyed by his centre-back persistently spraying long balls instead of playing out from the back as he wanted, according to the Athletic.
The former PSG man has since moved on to Arsenal, who he joined on the final day of the summer transfer window. But for Unai Emery, Luiz’s style of play could be a similar issue moving forward.
The defender has always been a good passer of the ball. Last season under Maurizio Sarri, he registered a pass accuracy of 88%, and in his two full seasons with Paris-Saint Germain in Ligue 1, he averaged over 89% on both occasions.
However, his tendency to look for a more direct pass is clear for all to see. Last term, he averaged 10.5 attempted long balls a game in the Premier League, which was more than any Chelsea player other than Willy Caballero, who only started two matches.
Whilst he did manage to complete six a game, he failed to land 4.5, which, bar Caballero once again, was far more than any of his teammates. At Arsenal last season, only the goalkeepers averaged more unsuccessful long balls every match.
Emery’s style is also based around being on the ball and playing from the back. His side averaged 56% possession last term, and all five of his main centre-backs were in the top six of the most passes per game completed for the Gunners.
With none of them averaging more than eight attempted long balls per match, it was clearly something that they were instructed to largely avoid by their boss.
Luiz’s erratic desire to play more directly was a problem for Lampard, and it could be for Emery too. Whilst he can attempt to take this out of his game, it is hard to teach old dogs new tricks.
On the other side, the long balls can be a blessing for Emery too. Playing sides with a massive high press that leave no easy way to play from the back – Luiz’s long-ball craft can come in really handy.
Against Liverpool, his long ball found Pepe in a good position and bar good finishing alone, it would have been an assist for the Brazilian – right from the heart of defence.
What Emery should be looking at now is a balance between his style of play and the full haired Brazilian’s tendency to always play long balls. It doesn’t have to be a worrying thing – if managed properly.