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Sunday 22 October 2017

Luiz praises Conte's huge impact on Chelsea

Chelsea v Middlesbro Live Sky Sports 1, KO 8.0pm

Chelsea's David Luiz. Photo: Getty
Chelsea's David Luiz. Photo: Getty

Chelsea defender David Luiz has revealed how Antonio Conte has helped mould him into one of the most impressive defenders in the Premier League.

Luiz has excelled in his second spell at Stamford Bridge under the Italian, having cut out most of the inconsistencies which dogged his first spell in west London.

And the Brazilian's talismanic qualities in Chelsea's back three were noted by his fellow professionals who voted him into the Professional Footballers' Association Premier League team of the season.

Luiz, who is expected to shake off a minor injury to help his side close in on the title against Middlesbrough on tonight, hailed Conte's management style.

Luiz told Chelsea's official website: "I love working with him. He works on the details and he's helped me a lot so it's very good to work with him.

"When I decided to come back I knew I would work with a fantastic coach, at a fantastic club, in a fantastic city and with many fantastic players."

Chelsea's march to the title can be traced back to Conte's brave decision to employ a back three after worrying early-season defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal.

The move sent the Blues on a 13-match winning run which swept them to the top of the table and almost certainly to the title after rivals Tottenham lost to West Ham on Friday.

Luiz added: "After those two games (Liverpool and Arsenal) we changed our system and it's worked very well because of the quality of our players, the style and the way we play.

"In the Premier League you don't have a lot of time to cry. There are always big games and you need to react within three or four days.

"We trusted our quality and it's good to have the sense to understand games. You need to analyse those type of situations, which is what we did, and after that it's gone very well."

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough head coach Steve Agnew has saluted Chelsea enforcer N'Golo Kante as he attempts to delay his march towards a second successive Premier League winners' medal.

The 26-year-old France international drove former club Leicester to a shock title triumph last season and is doing much the same again at Stamford Bridge this time around - following his big money summer switch - to leave the club on the brink of glory. Relegation-threatened Boro will stand in his way on Monday evening when they head for the capital knowing anything less than victory could prove fatal to their lingering survival hopes, and Agnew is only too aware of what Kante can do to opposition teams.

He said: "He's been absolutely top-class. He's the one player who knits it all together - he did it for Leicester last season.

"Any successful team, it's all about balance, whether it's physical attributes of quick players and big players, or whether it's technical players, or whether it's the workman-like player who really does hold the team together."

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