The air of crisis hangs heavy around Chelsea football club at the moment, with the fans at loggerheads with the board that installed the reviled Rafa Benitez as manager, and their discontent constantly fueled by a series of results that has given real hope to the pack of clubs behind them.
Benitez’s record is increasingly poor, and he has taken two less points from one more match that Roberto Di Matteo managed in his period in charge this season. The Spaniard looks increasingly unlikely to see out even his short term contract at Stamford Bridge, and where Chelsea will turn next is the subject of fevered speculation.
However amongst all this, one factor that shouldn’t be ignored is the recent absence of David Luiz in recent weeks. The Brazilian defender has been frequently maligned during his spell in England, but his record this season demonstrates how important he is to Chelsea.
Of their 25 leagues games, Luiz has played in 18. Chelsea’s record in that period is 11 wins, four draws and three losses, a win percentage of 61%. This isn’t a stunning figure for a team as good as Chelsea, but they have only managed two wins in the seven matches he hasn’t played in, a measly 29% win percentage.
More importantly, Chelsea have only conceded 14 goals in Luiz’s 18 appearances, with 13 goals coming in the seven games she hasn’t played in. The Blues have turned in nine clean sheets with Luiz in the side, none without him, clearly he is a vital cog in the defensive unit.
Which must make Rafa Benitez think that Luiz’s imminent return might give him a glimmer of hope for his future at Chelsea. Benitez might only be looking to get until the end of the season, securing a top four place and maybe a trophy on the way, but he looks a long way away from achieving that at the moment, and if they are to recover some form, you’d expect that Luiz will be central to their chances.
image: © Ben Sutherland