Statistical Analysis: Should Gary Cahill or David Luiz partner John Terry for Chelsea?


John Terry has started all ten of Chelsea’s Premier League games this season, with Gary Cahill partnering him for five and David Luiz partnering him for the other five. It is clear then that Jose Mourinho does not know who his best centre-back pairing is.

Statistical comparison

Goals conceded per game Tackles success Defensive actions per game Aerial duel success Defensive errors Passes per game Pass accuracy
Luiz 1.2 100% 6 67% 1 58.4 85%
Cahill 0.4 50% 7 78% 0 55.2 87%

The most telling statistic here is that Chelsea concede just 0.4 goals per game when John Terry is partnered by Gary Cahill, but concede 1.2 goals per game when David Luiz partners the Chelsea captain. This is crucial as it suggests that John Terry and Gary Cahill are the best pairing for Chelsea with perhaps the best defensive understanding of Chelsea’s available options.

Whilst Luiz has completed 100% of his tackles it’s worth noting that he’s attempted just three, with Cahill also attempting just two tackles, making this a less important way of monitoring their defensive contributions. In other areas Cahill has an edge, winning a superior number of aerial deuls and at ¬†abetter success rate than Luiz, as well as having a higher pass completion rate and having not made any defensive errors this season.

Luiz is actually not as good on the ball as some might suggest, versus Newcastle for example he completed just 84% of his passes and was very wasteful with regards to the longer passes he attempted to play. Cahill on the other hand is a bit more conservative in possession, but as such he keeps the ball better than his team-mate, whilst also having the ability to move out of the back with the ball.


This brief statistical look at Cahill and Luiz shows that Gary Cahill is the superior partner for John Terry. David Luiz has not had a good season for Chelsea and is actually the Chelsea player with the lowest Squawka score of just -37. Although reading in to defensive statistics is problematic, the fact remains that Chelsea concede less goals with Cahill and Terry at the back and as such it makes sense for their pair to continue to perform meaning that Luiz could and should face a spell out of the side.

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