Monday 19 August 2019

'Arsenal fans will question the signing' - David Luiz could face a rough ride says ex-Ireland defender Stephen Kelly

David Luiz. Photo: PA
David Luiz. Photo: PA
Chelsea’s David Luiz is close to leaving Stamford Bridge (Adam Davy/PA)
David Kelly

David Kelly

Stephen Kelly says that new Arsenal signing David Luiz could be in for a rough ride from the fans if Unai Emery’s side fail to convince in the first month of the new Premier League season.

"Arsenal have been lacklustre in recent times, they didn't really have any grit and you don’t see David Luiz solving that problem," says the former Irish international and Spurs’ defender Kelly.

"He’s a fabulous player but so unpredictable and for a defender, the first thing you’re looking for is reliability. Arsenal need someone reliable.

"Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli would have been ideal for them, someone who can come in and be a rock in the centre and then Emery can try to build around him.

"But they weren't going to break the bank to get him.

"Arsenal fans will question the signing, they won’t be forgiving to Luiz especially given that he has come from across the city.

"If Arsenal move to a back five, the onus will be on the wing-backs to get up and down but also solidify the flanks.

"It could work to their favour and Luiz has played his best in a three because he has two defenders to rely on if he does something crazy.

"But it’s going to take a few weeks to bed in a system and get him to gel.

"It’s a work in progress as they’re trying to build on last season and Luiz wouldn’t have been the signing you would have thought after losing your club captain.”

The Gunners' North London rivals – and Kelly's former club – have struggled in the transfer window and the collapse of Paulo Dybala’s move from Juventus has dampened some expectations around White Hart Lane.

However, Kelly feels that Spurs, who nabbed their principal target, Tanguy Ndombele already this summer, are in a good position to build on a campaign that saw them reach a Champions League final as well as being the main rivals to runaway title chasers Man City and Liverpool for much of the season.

"People forget that the squad of players they had last season pushed the top two close,” says Kelly.

"It was only in the last couple of months that their league form tapered off but I think that reaching the Champions League has propelled them on to another level.

"And that has benefited them in terms of attracting players although they will be disappointed the Dybala deal fell through.

"But the fact that they are in the conversation for players like him and Bruno Fernandes is indicative of where they are now.

"They’ve broken their transfer record and in terms of squad development, I think they’re doing it the right away.

"They’re not pushing the boat out, they have developed players as well like Harry Winks and bringing through a players like that every season is important too.

"Keeping Harry Kane is vital in all of this, even if Christian Eriksen might leave before the transfer window on the continent closes.

"However, I don’t see them getting near the top two. For Spurs to emulate what either of them did in the league last year would be remarkable and even then you’re assuming that both Man City and Liverpool are going to regress, which is not going to happen."

Stephen Kelly was speaking as Off The Ball confirmed it will be broadcasting Premier League games for another three seasons until 2022.

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