Football Expert & Columnist
David Luiz now looks like a serious defender, says Jamie Redknapp
Last Updated: 31/10/16 12:17pm
Chelsea's defensive prowess of late has been typified by David Luiz's resurgence under their new formation, according to Jamie Redknapp.
A 3-0 loss to Arsenal prompted manager Antonio Conte to rethink his tactics, and Chelsea now sit fourth in the table having picked up four wins and four clean sheets in the Premier League since opting for three centre-backs.
Luiz has played in the middle of Chelsea's defensive trio during this run, most recently their 2-0 win at Southampton on Sunday, and Jamie Redknapp admitted the Brazilian has transformed under Conte.
"There is a hunger about this Chelsea team," said Redknapp. "The manager has brought that in and the players are buying into it.
"Every single player on that pitch is working hard and there's a desire about them again. Conte has got them so well drilled. Everybody knows their job when they have the ball and it suits them defensively as well.
"Luiz looks - I'm scared to say it - like a serious defender. You've got him buying into it as well, and that was a problem for Chelsea for many years. But when he's like that, he looks the real deal."
Questions were asked as to where Luiz would fit in following his Deadline Day move from Paris Saint-Germain, with even Conte admitting that he was a "surprise" purchase.
However, Luiz has started the last eight games for Chelsea in all competitions, benefiting from John Terry's ankle injury which he sustained against Swansea in early September.
During the match against Southampton, Sky Sports' Gary Neville said Conte is finally getting the best out of Luiz by playing him in a back three.
Neville added that the change in Chelsea's overall mentality is noticeable, highlighting Luiz's diversion from playing it out from the back.
"This Chelsea team have not made a mistake today, they've not put a foot wrong," said Neville. "The concentration and focus is there but the clean sheet mentality is the big thing for me, and it's there right through the team these past few weeks.
"Even Luiz is kicking it into the stand when two years ago he might have done a Cruyff turn and tried to beat the attacker."
Playing three centre-backs is very much the Italian way, but Conte originally appeared reluctant to implement the tactics he used in Italy when arriving in England this summer.
However, Chelsea have settled into the new formation comfortably and are now reaping the rewards, sitting one point behind league leaders Manchester City - who are ahead of Liverpool and Arsenal on goal difference.
Chelsea have defeated both Manchester United and Southampton recently despite having less possession, but this new style may not be appreciated by everyone, according to Graeme Souness.
"They play a brand of football which won't be everyone's cup of tea," Souness said after the Southampton match. "But that was a near-perfect performance away from home.
"No one comes to Southampton and has an easy ride, but Chelsea nullified them and limited them to just one shot on target. It was a very impressive performance.
"They're happy with that back three - a back five when they don't have the ball - to sit there and say 'come on, show us what you've got', and they're dealing with whatever is being thrown at them.
"It's counter-attacking football and that's very Italian, and when I played in Italy, we would be shocked after losing games 1-0 despite having most of the ball. That's the feeling teams will have when playing this side."