Arsenal: David Luiz the right choice for North London Derby

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17: David Luiz of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on August 17, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17: David Luiz of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on August 17, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /

Arsenal should not be quick to bench our maverick center-back, David Luiz. While he had some noteworthy mistakes against Liverpool and while he is ostensibly error-prone, there are several reasons for sticking with the Brazilian.

In his piece, Down with David Luiz, my colleague, Josh Sippie, made a valiant effort in arguing why Chambers rather than Luiz should be the preferred option against Tottenham. While I’m sure many Arsenal fans were disgruntled by Luiz’s costly mistakes and agree with Sippie – I am not one of those fans.

Down with David Luiz argued that the Brazilian should be benched. The main points being that Luiz was at fault for the goal conceded against Burnley, the first two Liverpool goals and that these mistakes were too much to disregard. Furthermore, the article concluded that Luiz had a 2/10 performance in the Liverpool game. I wholeheartedly disagree.

To the contrary, barring the two shocking mistakes against Liverpool, Luiz has had a solid start to his Arsenal career. Indeed, the Brazilian had a near-flawless first half against Liverpool; one spent organizing a steadfast defense, clearing the ball according to Emery’s game plan, and cleaning up when necessary. As for the ‘mistake’ at Burnley, well — it wasn’t one. Luiz was well positioned in the box with another Arsenal player behind him when a pass took a huge deflection – a deflection that altered the direction of the ball perfectly, seeing it unexpectedly split our defenders and fall right at Barnes’ feet. This goal was the result of bad luck, something we as Arsenal fans know all too well — not poor defending.

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If we as Arsenal fans we are on the wrong side of luck more often than not, then why did many of us view this as a defensive error? Confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is “the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.” We view Luiz with skepticism, believing he is error-prone. Thus, when he does make a mistake we consider it as confirmation of his errant ways. The consequence of this cognitive bias is that it causes us to subconsciously ignore evidence that negates the belief. For David Luiz, our game against Liverpool was filled with such evidence, as noted above.

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Further, as Arsenal fans, we go into these sorts of games buoyed by our emotions. Upon first viewing, our emotions often dictate our response rather than logic. We tend to look at the game with unrelenting scrutiny, groaning at every error and yelling unspeakable things at our players from the stands or through the television. We look for mistakes we’re used to seeing as new positives become harder to perceive.

This view has clouded our judgment, causing us to view things through a tainted lens. When you look through a tainted lens, everything you see will be similarly tainted — even the good stuff.

Arsenal’s defense needs experience and stability. David Luiz offers both. Yes, along with those attributes, he also brings some mistakes. But if you watch his games through a clean looking glass, and if you’ve watched him over the years, you’ll realize his mistakes come few and far between. I would much rather one or two big mistakes in games we are likely to lose anyway (e.g. Liverpool away) than consistent mistakes against weaker oppositions (e.g. Mustafi vs. Crystal Palace and probably every other team last season).

We also seem to romanticize playing our homegrown players like chambers and holding. But the truth is — and we all know it — Chambers is not yet ready to displace either Sokratis/Luiz and start regularly for Arsenal. He simply is not as good an all-round defender. Moreover, Luiz provides an out with his ability to play the long ball – something Emery is trying to add to our game. Indeed, Luiz was brought in for exactly these reasons. While a stopgap, he fits the style of play we are trying to embody, adding another option to a previously one-dimensional Arsenal attack.

Next. 5 Things Learned Against Liverpool. dark

Ultimately, dropping David Luiz for Calum Chambers would stifle any progress Arsenal have made — in defense and attack. Indeed, swapping Luiz’s Champions-League-winning experience for Chambers’ naivety could prove calamitous in a crucial North London Derby.