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Since Maurizio Sarri’s appointment as Chelsea manager, many have wondered how his back four will look. In the opening weeks of the season, it looks like David Luiz, who was left out for the majority of last season, is Sarri’s favoured partner for Antonio Rudiger.

However, Luiz has said to have been a better fit to a three-man defence rather than a four-man, with Andreas Christensen preferred by most Chelsea fans.

This was apparent yet again against Newcastle as Luiz was caught out for the host’s equaliser. But when we look at the numbers, who is more deserving of a start? Find out here:

Ball Playing

One of the big aspects of Chelsea’s so-called ‘Sarriball’ is that everybody needs to be comfortable on the ball.

With Luiz being very well known for his ability on the ball, this has been the reasoning people give for him starting. However, as we can see from below, Chelsea’s younger alternative is a more reliable option with the ball at his feet.

Chelsea David Luiz Andreas Christensen Tactical Analysis
Per game stats taken from seasons where the pair featured most prominently.

Christensen made a great impression last season and with the stats shown above, we can see that he wouldn’t do much harm if he is brought into the starting line-up.

The one thing that Luiz has in his favour, however, is the number of key passes he makes. A more attack-minded player by nature, he often tries riskier passes which can often pay bigger dividends.

With this in mind, this may be the reason Sarri decides to opt for the more attacking Luiz as it offers his side an extra dimension in attack.


First and foremost, however, a centre back’s job is to defend and its fair to say that over the years, Luiz has struggled with this at times in a back four.

This is why Christensen is requested to start by so many Chelsea fans, but again, do the numbers actually back this up?

Chelsea David Luiz Andreas Christensen Tactical Analysis

Well when it comes to the defensive side of the game, Luiz doesn’t look to be as bad as many may think.

Performing better in than Christensen in terms of tackling, interceptions and clearances, the Brazilian could well have a case to be starting of the young Danish international.

These stats suggest that he can be a good defensive centre back and Sarri may not have the stigma that is already attached to Luiz.

Christensen also has a good case to start, however, as he proved himself to be better in the air and at making blocks. With these being traditional defensive traits, he Luiz begins to wobble, he could slot into the side nicely and perform solidly when needed.


Overall, David Luiz isn’t as bad as the general consensus think but it’s no secret that he is getting on. He may be starting and just about getting by for now, but don’t be surprised if Christensen comes in within the season and overshadows the Brazilian. It will be an interesting battle to see unfold.