Thursday 13 December 2018

David Luiz will return to Chelsea training on Wednesday after Brazil omission

David Luiz was forced to sit out Chelsea's clash against Manchester United
David Luiz was forced to sit out Chelsea's clash against Manchester United

David Luiz and Antonio Conte will have an opportunity for reconciliation in the international break when the Brazil defender returns to Chelsea training on Wednesday.

Luiz was axed for Chelsea's 1-0 Premier League win over Manchester United on Sunday.

The 30-year-old, though, has a chance to show his worth to Conte while his colleagues are on international duty as Luiz was not selected in the Brazil squad for this month's friendlies with Japan in Lille and England at Wembley.

Conte insisted the decision to omit Luiz from the matchday squad against United - Andreas Christensen started in defence and 17-year-old midfielder Ethan Ampadu was preferred on the bench - was tactical.

And reports of behind-the-scenes friction between Conte and Luiz have been played down by Chelsea, who say any tensions are part of the fluctuations of a season and not a sign of serious strain in the relationship. This is not like the Diego Costa row, the Blues say.

Luiz's omission from the team to face United meant he was not required for some training drills in the build-up and, like all other non-playing squad members, had to report to training on Sunday morning.

He will be expected to report to training on Wednesday afternoon, along with the other Chelsea players not called up by their countries.

Christensen thrived in the centre of Chelsea's three-man defence, the only blot on his performance coming when he missed the target with a free header.

The 21-year-old, who will now be joining up with Denmark for the World Cup play-off with the Republic of Ireland, was unfazed by the enormity of the clash.

Christensen's two years on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach included Champions League football against Juventus, Barcelona and Manchester City, who now lead the Premier League by eight points after 11 games.

Christensen told Chelsea TV: "In the Champions League, you feel the pressure, even though we were underdogs playing against some big teams.

"It's a massive win. We're happy the way we got it. We have to try to use that for the future and hopefully keep the energy up."

Chelsea's win, courtesy of Alvaro Morata's second-half header, was a fine response to the limp 3-0 loss at Roma.

Defender Cesar Azpilicueta said: "We needed to show our level. Everyone was making a huge effort, the quality was there, we created chances."

Chelsea's title triumph last term was largely a result of a 13-game winning run. A similar sequence will be required to have any hope of catching City, who lead fourth-placed Chelsea by nine points.

Like Conte, Azpilicueta plans to take a game-by-game approach when domestic action resumes later this month.

He added: "We know that Manchester City is doing really well, winning almost every game. But we have to do our job, keep winning games.

"It's still a long season, we're in November. We need to try to close this gap, work hard for this and try to win games.

"We know we have a busy few weeks after (the international break)."

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