Influential Villa ace cornerstone in Emery’s process of implementing style

As Unai Emery continues to try and implement his style and way of playing at Aston Villa, Douglas Luiz has emerged as a fundamental figure in that process.

Still only 24 years of age, the Brazilian midfielder has shown maturity, composure, technical quality and an ability to adapt and learn under the Villa boss to establish himself as a key piece in his plans.

READ MORE: Villa player ratings vs Bournemouth: Key trio pick of bunch in big win

In 14 Premier League games under Emery’s stewardship, Luiz has scored two goals and provided four assists, having only managed one goal and one assist in 12 games prior to his arrival.

The tweak to his role and position has paid dividends, as beyond those numbers, his influence in our general play has grown and he has been a vital cog in establishing our playing style under Emery.

Speaking after our win over Bournemouth this weekend, the Spaniard reserved special praise for Luiz, and it’s clear how highly he values him in terms of what he’s trying to build at Villa.

“Today, I am very happy with Douglas Luiz. His skill, characteristic in the squad is very important,” he told the media, as quoted by BirminghamLive. “Every match he is very focused on how we can manage 90 minutes keeping ball possession, keeping good positioning, taking our time with our central midfielder and his characteristic is necessary in this team. Today was the match, I think, overall with the performances, was the best with us since I arrived here.”

Aside from his goal, Luiz had 73 touches of the ball, an 85% passing completion rate, three key passes, five out of five successful dribble attempts, he won nine of 13 duels, made two interceptions and two tackles.

Luiz heat map Villa vs Bournemouth

Again though, his impact goes beyond the figures, as his ability to dictate the tempo of a game with his patience on the ball to help us dominate possession and provide the all-important control of games that Emery has been seeking for months, he is a fundamental part of what we’re trying to implement.

Further, he showed the other side of his game on Saturday too with his reading of play and ability to nip in and win possession back quickly and further up the pitch, while also sitting back when needed to offer protection in front of the backline.

While his partnership with Boubacar Kamara has been excellent and that will hopefully be restored after the international break, John McGinn deserves praise too for adapting to the role required of him and allowing Luiz the freedom to play in a more advanced role at his expense.

The Scottish International was starting to impress on the right side of midfield prior to the switch, but he’s filled that void really well and it’s important Villa get that trio of McGinn, Kamara and Luiz together again soon after the break as we face a crucial run of fixtures that will determine how successful this season will be.

Nevertheless, Luiz will no doubt continue to play a pivotal role for us, not only in getting the necessary results for us to continue to look up the standings, but to help implement Emery’s preferred style as we look to build a long-term identity and way of playing that will be a hallmark of our approach moving forward.

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