Chelsea success must be built from the back

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David Luiz has been made one of the scapegoats for Chelsea's stuttering season. Justifiably or not, the Brazilian defender insists his critics cannot 'kill' him, but will help to make him even stronger.

The 24-year-old has accumulated many detractors for his buccaneering, off-the-cuff style of play that we have become accustomed to - his bold, dynamic technique highlighted as a fitting symbol for a club, and manager in crisis.

After a number of individual and collectively erratic outings this year, Luiz and Chelsea enjoyed one of their most impressive performances in Saturday's 3-0 Premier League victory over Bolton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge - a game which saw Luiz open the scoring with a sensational strike just two minutes after the interval.

However, it was his display at the other end of the pitch that really drew the plaudits, with Luiz receiving praise from central defensive partner Gary Cahill, a player he is hoping to build a solid partnership with at the heart of Chelsea's backline in the absence of club captain John Terry.

"It was a fantastic goal by David Luiz, he's one of the best centre-backs with the ball at his feet that I've seen," the former Trotters stopper told his new club's official website.

"I thought he was fantastic, it was a great goal and fully deserved. It didn't surprise me when he cut inside and bent it in, it was a fantastic finish.

"We're obviously working together in training, getting to know each other, especially with different languages and things like that, it takes a bit of time to come together but I was pleased, I thought it worked well."

Luiz has been guilty of a number of high-profile mistakes during a turbulent first 13 months in west London, most recently an error which led to Napoli's third goal in the disappointing 3-1 Champions League last-16 first leg defeat in southern Italy last week.

When asked if he has found life tough at Stamford Bridge amid all the criticism and growing pressure, the South American told Chelsea TV: "For me it's normal. I play for a big team and when a big team doesn't win five or six games the pressure is so big. It can be too much.

"But I believe in my job, my work every day and I believe in myself. I know my football and my personality. Never has the game killed me.

"We have two matches that are like finals coming up, in the FA Cup and against Napoli, and I believe 100 per cent that if we play like we did [against Bolton] we will win those games.

"The mentality of the group against Bolton was fantastic from the first to the last minute [and] we deserved the win. All the players defended well, not just me but Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic.

"All the team defended good and this is what we need to do for the other games. We must improve match by match and I want us to win the next one. This season is difficult, but it's important to focus only on the present and not to worry about the past or the future."

The Bolton victory marked Chelsea's first Premier League win in over a month, and the fact that Andre Villas-Boas' side kept a clean sheet should help to inspire confidence in what is now seen as a shaky looking defensive line.

Cahill joined the club in the midst of a tough period in terms of results, and has been forced to quickly adapt to a series of changes at the back. To his credit though, the £7million signing refuses to look for excuses, and believes that there is still plenty of time left for Chelsea to make 2011-12 a successful campaign.

"My partnership with Luiz and the whole back four is new," he explained. "A change has been made and it's not something that is going to click into place straight away. It is different, but the more we work together on the training ground the better the relationships will be.

"I'm not going to lie and say it's been fantastically easy. We have had some sticky results of late and I have been plonked straight in the middle of it all. It has been difficult.

"There is an expectation level from the fans and rightly so. They expect us to win games and come and watch good football. There is nothing wrong with that and as players we have to try and produce that. They will be a lot happier with that performance against Bolton.

"We need to turn the Champions League tie around, the FA Cup is still there for us to strive towards, and obviously we need to get into a league position where we can secure Champions League football. With the quality of players we've got here, hopefully we can go on to fulfil the goals we have for this season."

In order to achieve their goals, Chelsea must address their defensive frailties, and restore the key ingredient that is needed in any footballing recipe for success. Then, the champagne football Villas-Boas so desperately craves will begin to flow in west London.

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