Has David Luiz redeemed himself? Quite possibly. His performance against Manchester City in Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final victory was exceptional: he was disciplined, determined, almost impenetrable at the back.
The Brazilian was there to block, to tackle and to head everything City threw at Arsenal. This was a monumental effort from the Gunners back five, and Luiz was at the heart of it.
It could not have been any different to his last display against City. At the Etihad last month, shortly after the season’s restart, Luiz was abysmal. He was brought on as a first-half substitute when Pablo Mari picked up an injury and then proceeded to gift the hosts the opening goal with a failed clearance that allowed Raheem Sterling to score.
And early in the second half, he pulled Riyad Mahrez’s shirt in the box, giving away a penalty and earning himself a red card. He walked off with his head down, ready to receive the inevitable barrage of criticism and abuse from furious fans on social media.
If nothing else, Luiz’s excellent performance in this FA Cup semi-final was evidence of his character, his mental fortitude. He does not seem the type to succumb to adversity, to doubt himself when everyone else is writing him off.
And that is what happened after the last meeting with Pep Guardiola’s side. Luiz was condemned. It was one error-strewn, almost comically bad performance too many. For a lot of supporters, Luiz was a lost cause.
Mikel Arteta deserves credit, too, for turning an Arsenal side that looked incapable of the most basic defending under Unai Emery into a solid, effective unit. They were structured and compact against City, closing down every avenue of attack, frustrating a team that have been frighteningly prolific of late.
Luiz was the man marshalling things at the back, shouting and dragging his teammates around, urging on Mustafi to his right and Kieran Tierney to his left.
This was a night for leaders, and Luiz proved here that he is one. There will, no doubt, be more mistakes in the future, more games that leave fans scratching their heads wondering how the former PSG and Chelsea centre back ever made it to this level.
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