Arsenal could be frustrated by David Luiz’s long balls, just like Frank Lampard

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Frank Lampard was “annoyed” by David Luiz’s refusal to follow his philisophy 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.

On the chalkboard

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.

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Too many long balls

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.

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