London: David Luiz is sparkling like a diamond in his new play-making role and vice-captain Frank Lampard believes the Chelsea number four can be equally valuable to the team in midfield and in his usual position in defence. The mop-haired Brazilian bustled and chased around Stamford Bridge like an over-exuberant puppy in Sunday's 8-0 demolition of Aston Villa but he also showed the full range of his ball skills with some incisive passing and deadly accurate shooting.
"He has the ability to play either position and he's been a fantastic central defender," Lampard told the club's website on Monday after the European champions climbed to third in the Premier League. "People say that central midfield is also a role for him and I think they are right. You still have to have discipline and be in the right position, and you can't take liberties, and against Villa he showed he has the discipline and the ability to do that role."
Chelsea fans have been imploring the club to utilise Luiz's creative talents in midfield for a long time but new interim manager Rafael Benitez is the first coach to play him in that position. The Brazilian occupied the role for the first time at the Club World Cup in Japan at the start of the month and he marked his second appearance as a playmaker by scoring with a dipping 20-metre free kick in the first half against Villa.
"You don't see the hours put in on the training pitch to work on that technique," Lampard said. "David has done it and now you are seeing the rewards because every time we get a free kick in that area you fancy him to get it on target." It was Lampard, though, who was the darling of the crowd on Sunday. The 34-year-old England international's contract ends this season and he said earlier this month that this could be his final campaign at the club he joined in 2001.
Lampard was given a standing ovation when he was substituted in the second half against Villa, with the supporters crying 'sign him up' over and over again. "The fans have supported me from the first minute I arrived and I appreciate them doing that," the midfielder added. "I try to play well for them." Lampard grabbed the fourth goal against Villa with a typically venomous long-range thunderbolt. The former West Ham United player now has 190 Chelsea goals, three behind the club's second highest scorer Kerry Dixon and 12 adrift of Bobby Tambling.
"I am very pleased with our win," Lampard said. "We showed everything we are about when we are at our best and I am pleased to be a part of that and to contribute with a goal as well. "We showed great appetite from the first minute with our desire to move the ball quickly and the early goal (by Fernando Torres) helped." Chelsea, who are now seven points behind Manchester City and 11 adrift of leaders Manchester United with a game in hand on both clubs, next travel to Norwich City on Wednesday.