Influential Villa star relishing fresh role under Emery

With the freedom to now play in a more advanced midfield role, Aston Villa ace Douglas Luiz is flourishing under Unai Emery.

The 24-year-old has now racked up 133 appearances for Villa since his move in 2019, contributing eight goals and 12 assists in those outings.

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His latest assist came for our winning goal against Southampton on Saturday, and as per Villa’s official Twitter, the Brazilian midfielder created more chances during the game than any other player with three.

While Luiz could certainly do a job as a No.6, that clearly wasn’t his strongest position. Through a lack of alternative options and an almost lazy acceptance in previous regimes that we could stick with him in front of the defence though, he was always limited in what he could showcase and had his weaknesses exposed.

Given his technical ability, vision, passing range and tenacity, he was always comfortable and composed in possession and was a key player for us on the ball to keep things ticking over. His issues were always defensive in nature, whether it was his positioning or awareness and perhaps on occasion just simply not being physical enough to provide a protective screen for the backline.

We’ve seen a big improvement from him so far this season, and a lot of that is thanks to the arrival of Boubacar Kamara, a legitimate defensive, ball-winning and box-to-box midfielder who can do that part of the game for us in that area of the pitch and simultaneously gives Luiz more freedom to create.

The pair are building an impressive and fundamental partnership in the heart of the side, and the more they can control the tempo of a game with possession, the stronger we look as we are finally winning midfield battles consistently again after struggling for so long.

As showcased in the video below, Luiz is a classy operator on the ball and so allowing him to play in a more advanced role is giving him a chance to express himself and be more creative for us further up the pitch.

He has two goals and four assists in 19 league games so far this season, that’s the most direct goal contributions in a single campaign in a Villa shirt for him already after registering five in total last year, two in 2020/21 and five in 2019/20. One of those goals and three assists have come since Emery took charge.

He still has defensive duties that he must diligently carry out, but with Kamara next to him, we’ve found a pivotal balance in midfield that will hopefully see him continue to flourish and the team as a whole improve and progress.

It’s a results based business and so that’s the most important thing as far as the team is concerned, but it’s also refreshing to see Luiz enjoying his football more now too and having signed a new deal last October which will keep him at Villa until 2026, things are looking very promising for all concerned.