David Luiz is undeniably a cult hero around Stamford Bridge.
His flair-filled performances have won many admirers, who leap to defend him in the face of what is often unwarranted criticism in the media.
Sure, he’s a little unconventional and has made mistakes, but equally, he’s put in some very good performances, none of which get the credit they’ve deserved.
However, over the last few matches, there’s been a noticeable change in how the Brazilian deals with particular situations. Simply put, he is playing under the old idiom ‘if in doubt, get it out’.
Now, since putting together a series of clips takes time and will likely be taken down for copyright infringement anyway, we’ll have to make do with statistical and anecdotal evidence, but it’s certainly been noticed by many a Chelsea fan.
Last night against Napoli, for example, Luiz made nine clearances, of which seven were successful and the majority of them were simply put into touch to allow time to regroup, as well as minimise potential mistakes.
There was more of the same in the second half against Stoke, and it was most evident against Birmingham on a shocking pitch.
It’s too soon to suggest that the change in how Luiz deals with these situations is down to Roberto Di Matteo, but it is possible to suggest that he was advised to adopt a different approach after the first leg in Naples.
Then, as you’ll remember, what could have been a simple clearance into touch became a loss of possession in his own box and led to Ezequiel Lavezzi making it 3-1 to the home side.
Of course, it is very much the Chelsea philosophy to attempt to retain possession under pressure in defensive areas and play out where possible, and this extends all the way down the age groups in the academy.
However, there comes a time where the ball simply has to be cleared. Whether it came from his own particular playing background, or instructions from the manager, or any number of other possibilities is unclear, but Luiz more than any other Chelsea defender was less inclined to do so.
As we’ve seen of late, he is now doing so, and in those three matches just one goal has been conceded.
Whether it’s a long-term change or just a brief one to steady a stricken ship and boost confidence remains to be seen. At the very least, it’s something to watch out for in the coming days and weeks.