Luiz in line for first Chelsea start

LONDON, Feb 13, 2011 (AFP) - Chelsea defender David Luiz will start his first Premier League game against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Monday as the Blues look to remain in the title race.

Luiz has the potential to be one of the world's best defenders, according to his manager Carlo Ancelotti who brought the Brazilian to Stamford Bridge for 21 million pounds (24.8 million euros) from Benfica on transfer deadline day.

But for now he wants to learn from established Premier League defenders, such as new team-mate John Terry, and help Chelsea retain their title.

Luiz said: "The Premier League is a lot faster and a lot more physical than the leagues I have played before.

"But I know I can become a better player here. I also understand Chelsea have the greatest facilities available for me to improve.

"I enjoy the physical side of the game - if I didn't like it I would be playing tennis!

"Terry has won a lot and I hope I can learn a lot from him and have the same kind of success he has had."

Ancelotti said of his new man: "He will be one of the best defenders in the world in the future.

"He is young but already he has fantastic experience playing in the Champions League for Benfica.

"He gives us a good opportunity to rest some players. Every game is very important and some players need to rest. We will rotate players in the next few games."

Luiz left home at the age of 14 to pursue his dream of becoming a top-level football player and in moving to Chelsea he is close to realising that goal.

But he has not forgotten the sacrifices his parents, both teachers, made to help him to get where he is today.

He said: "When I left, I told my parents I would be back when I can give them the life they deserve. I have managed to do that.

"I have given them a better life and more stability so they can enjoy their lives. I am the main source to support my family and I will always do that."

Luiz's arrival was somewhat overshadowed by that of Fernando Torres from Liverpool on the same day.

Both players made their Chelsea debut in the 1-0 loss to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge last Sunday, with Torres playing a disappointing 60 minutes and Luiz coming on midway through the second half.

With Torres likely to partner Didier Drogba up front, Fulham manager Mark Hughes could be forgiven for feeling slightly apprehensive going into this match.

However, Hughes, a former Chelsea player, is confident his side can record their sixth consecutive victory at Craven Cottage.

He added: "I've always stated that the second half of the season would be better for us.

"The results are backing up the performances we've been producing. It was always going to change because we were getting players back and Mousa Dembele and Andrew Johnson are playing really well for us at the moment.

"We've got a real cutting edge now which we were lacking earlier in the season and as a consequence we're winning more games.

"Confidence is high at the moment and given the opposition on Monday I would suggest we're in as good a state as we could possibly be, confidence wise, going into the game."

Fulham will be without Dickson Etuhu and Philippe Senderos while Bobby Zamora is still three weeks away from fitness after recovering from a broken leg.

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