Classy Villa duo developing crucial partnership under Emery

As we continue to see improvements in both our performances and results, Aston Villa boss Unai Emery will be delighted with a key partnership in the heart of his side.

Since taking charge, the Spanish tactician has overseen wins over Man Utd, Brighton and Tottenham, and although there was a loss to Liverpool in the middle of that, it says a lot that we came away disappointed after that game not to take something from it.

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Emery’s influence and coaching is undoubtedly having an impact on the team now as we just look a better drilled side on and off the ball, and key to the way he wants his Villa team to play is the midfield duo of Douglas Luiz and Boubacar Kamara.

Kamara a game-changer for Villa midfield

Put simply, Villa have a top, top player in Kamara and he has addressed a glaring issue that we had in midfield for years.

From his ability to effortlessly step in and intercept given how well he reads the game to his aggressive pressing, combined with composure and technical ability to pass his way out of trouble and get us into the attacking phase of our game quickly.

He puts together those qualities brilliantly, and his presence in front of the backline is making a huge difference not only in making us harder to break through, but to also now control games in midfield and dictate the tempo and possession.

In our win over Tottenham on Sunday, Kamara had 71 touches, 84% passing completion, one key pass, he won nine of 12 duels, made three interceptions, three tackles and had one blocked shot. One moment in the game that showcased his defensive quality perfectly was when he stepped across inside the box and snuffed out danger after Mings had been beaten.

Kamara in his own right is a top-class midfielder, but what makes him elite, is his ability to then impact his teammates around him and raise their level. And we’ve seen that with Luiz who is enjoying the freedom that his midfield partner allows him to have.

Luiz relishing current role

The Brazilian ace was involved in both of our goals on Sunday. Firstly, advancing further up the pitch to have an attempt on goal which Lloris spilled and led to Emi Buendia eventually breaking the deadlock.

For the second, Luiz was instrumental in the build-up and proceeded to float his way into the box, was found with a brilliant pass from John McGinn, and showed great composure and quality to lift it over Lloris and into the back of the net to seal the win.

Not only did Kamara’s presence in midfield give Luiz the courage and freedom to get forward into a goalscoring area knowing he’s got cover behind, but who won the ball back in Tottenham’s half to set the move off? Bouba.

Aside from his goal, Luiz had 70 touches, 92% passing completion, one key pass, three shots on target, he won five of seven duels, had two tackles, two interceptions and one clearance.

That’s the beauty of their partnership. In that midfield pivot, they can cover for each other too and impact the game in both phases just as well as each other.

If Emery continues to get the best out of them and they stay fit, Villa have a midfield duo capable of dictating games and winning that battle, which will in turn put us in a strong position week in and week out to get positive results. Given it’s still early in their time playing alongside each other in what is largely a 4-4-2, it should hopefully become an increasingly effective partnership the more time they have to build chemistry and understanding.