David Luiz has hit back at his critics after delivering a phenomenal defensive display in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory against Manchester City.
The Brazilian centre-back made a disastrous cameo just over a month ago in the Premier League against Pep Guardiola’s side, gifting Raheem Sterling the opening goal before managing to get himself sent off for a challenge on Riyad Mahrez.
While Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the hero at the other end with the two goals, Luiz put in a superb display at Wembley this time around, getting his head to many crosses and making one noticeable block from a goalbound Sterling effort.
Following his heroics, Luiz appeared to want to set the record straight, and stated he used his experience to come back from that nightmare situation at the Etihad last month and deliver an excellent performance at Wembley.
‘There was a lot of criticism of me, I think you can say that,’ Luiz told BT Sport after the Gunners’ victory against City.
‘That’s part of football. I understood during my career that part of football is about surviving. Every day you’re going to defend your team, and the other people are going to support different teams.’
‘It’s about surviving, so that’s what I did. I was working hard every single day after my mistakes. I took the blame, I was mature enough to understand that. I was also humble [enough] to work more for the team.
‘We have a final to play this season. We are going to try to win a title for this club because this club, I always say, deserves to shine again.’
The 33-year-old Brazilian is one of the more experienced members of the current Arsenal squad, but took the opportunity to praise the squad’s humility as well as speaking highly of boss Mikel Arteta’s philosophy.
However, Luiz insisted that the Gunners have not yet reached their end goal and still have progress to make to end up challenging for the big trophies again.
‘It was a great result against one of the best teams in the world. We were humble and understood the way we have to play. We took the opportunities to score,’ Luiz continued.
‘We have to be mature to understand the levels we are at in the process. We have an amazing coach who wants to bring us the best football for this club, but not zero to a hundred.
‘We have to understand that day by day. The spirit was great and I am happy for the team because this team deserved it.
‘The team understood, in modern football, how everyone has to defend, fight, have the spirit, play every ball 100 percent.
‘It would be easier to keep the ball, maybe, and not run like we did, Aubameyang was miles away in front of us, but we are humble. [We knew that] when you play, you can [then] hurt the opponents.’
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand also gave Luiz a rave review for his performance, while also highlighting the compact nature of Arsenal’s defensive set-up.
‘He’s come in for a lot of criticism over the last couple of seasons and rightly so at times. He’s made mistakes and you get criticised for that.
‘The way they set up helped him – with three centre-backs, and they packed the centre of the pitch. They played with a defensive security.
‘There was a stability about how they played. They were composed defensively.’
Former Arsenal and Manchester United forward Robin van Persie agreed with his former team-mate and fellow pundit on both Arsenal’s defensive structure and Luiz.
The Dutchman claimed he would try to bully Luiz if he was playing against him before the north London side’s FA Cup quarter-final victory at Sheffield United, but was full of praise for the Brazilian for this display.Advertisement
‘It was brilliant. David Luiz put his body in front of balls, he was blocking every ball, I think he headed away 25 balls. He was fantastic,’ the Dutchman added.