Aston Villa made a terrific decision prior to the break for the 2022 World Cup as they appointed Unai Emery to replace Steven Gerrard in the dugout.
The Villans have won five of his eight Premier League matches in charge, drawing one and losing two, after the club had won three of their first 13 matches in the division.
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This shows that the Spaniard has had a significant, immediate, impact on the results in the top flight and is pushing the team in the right direction as they compete for a place in the top half of the table.
One player who is massively benefiting from the former Arsenal coach’s management is central midfielder Douglas Luiz, who is thriving in the middle of the park.
The £75k-per-week Brazilian maestro had recorded a Sofascore rating of 7.1 or higher in six of his first 16 matches of the campaign – prior to the World Cup break. Since Villa resumed competitive fixtures, Luiz has produced performances worthy of a score of 7.1 or higher in six of his seven appearances for the club, with journalist John Townley claiming the magician has “excelled“.
He has averaged a Sofascore rating of 7.39 in all competitions since returning from the break and his seasonal average in the Premier League is 7.04 – the highest in the squad.
Luiz has been in phenomenal form and Emery could be on his way to unearthing his next Marco Verratti in midfield, after the manager worked with the Italy international at Paris Saint-German – playing him in 81 matches.
The PSG dynamo scored five goals and assisted 15 in those games and averaged a Sofascore rating of 7.32 – whilst making 1.4 key passes and 3.5 tackles and interceptions per game – in Ligue 1 during the 2017/18 campaign for Emery.
Verratti also completed a whopping 91% of his attempted passes in the French top-flight and this shows that the Italian gem was a brilliant midfielder for the current Villa boss, as he made contributions at both ends of the pitch whilst maintaining a high-performance level.
Luiz’s recent form indicates that he has the quality to reach those levels with the Brazilian talent proving to boast a similar style of play to the PSG star, based on his statistics this term.
The gem has completed 89% or more of his passes in six of his last seven outings and is currently averaging 3.0 tackles and interceptions and 1.3 key passes per match over the course of the league season.
Like Verratti, Luiz regularly wins possession back for his team and is then able to use his quality on the ball to create opportunities for his teammates – without being a liability with his passing.
Therefore, Emery could unearth his next version of the PSG maestro by helping the Villa midfielder, who Ty Bracey once dubbed “unreal“, to maintain his current performance level in the long term.