The new Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has confirmed that the club’s Deadline Day signing David Luiz will earn his second debut at Stamford Bridge on Friday night, replacing the injured John Terry for the Blues’ match against Liverpool.
The Chelsea captain picked up an ankle injury during the club’s 2-2 draw with Swansea City at The Liberty Stadium last Sunday. The injury came when Terry went in for a tackle with the scorer of Swansea’s second goal Leroy Fer; a player who was involved in a number of contentious issues including a tackle on Gary Cahill before the Swans made it 2-1 that Gary Cahill said was a foul that the match referee ‘could have seen from the moon’.
The problem with Terry’s ankle has ruled him out for up to ten days, meaning that Luiz will be starting for his former club for the first time since returning to Stamford Bridge from Paris Saint-Germain on the final day of the transfer window. The Brazilian was signed by the French club back in 2014 for £50 million, a record fee for a defender. The 29-year-old signed a three year deal to return to West London in August, with Chelsea paying the French club £30 million to re-sign him.
During his first spell with the Blues Luiz made 143 appearances in all competitions and notched up twelve goals. He actually got his Premier League debut for the Londoners against the Merseyside club when he came off the bench in a 1-0 loss for the home side. Antonio Conte will be hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself in Chelsea’s first Friday Night Football of the season.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, the Italian hinted that he’d rather not be starting Luiz just yet. The former Juventus player and manager said, “When you sign new players it is normal that they need time to adapt to a new concept and a new idea about football. He’s worked a lot in recent days on the defensive situations with the ball when we are in possession”.
Despite his slight misgivings, however, the former Italy national boss isn’t too worried about chucking the expensive addition to his defensive backline in at centre-back in a game of such magnitude. He said, “I’m confident about his performance. He’s a good player and I’m very pleased because I have seen good things from him in the training sessions”.
One player who is unlikely to start against Liverpool, though, is Marcos Alonso. The 25-year-old left-back was also brought in during the summer for a feee believed to be in the region of £24 million. The former Real Madrid youth prospect has previous experience of playing in England, having signed for Bolton Wanderers in 2010 and also made sixteen appearances for Sunderland in 2014.
It is believed that the Spaniard has been brought in as backup for Chelsea’s first-choice full-backs Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta. He is fit and available for the Blues tomorrow night but is likely to be on the bench as neither of the other defenders are injured and Antonio Conte is unwilling to make too many changes to his backline. He said, “Alonso is ready to play and if there is the necessity he can play”, suggesting that he may be called upon from the bench but won’t start Chelsea’s biggest home game of the season so far.