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Aston Villa: Matt Maher drops early team news hint ahead of Leeds

Aston Villa are likely to start Douglas Luiz in central midfield against Leeds United this weekend.

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That’s according to Matt Maher, with the Express & Star journalist hinting in a recent report that, following confirmation that Boubacar Kamara sustained a knee ligament injury in the 1-0 victory over Southampton before the international break, the Brazil international looks to be the favourite to replace the Frenchman in the middle of the park at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon.

In his report, Maher said: “Douglas Luiz is favourite to replace him in the starting XI at Elland Road though Marvelous Nakamba and Morgan Sanson, two players yet to feature this season, are likely to come back in contention for an important run of fixtures as Villa look to climb the Premier League table.”

Gerrard must unleash Luiz

While it is true that Luiz’s long-term future at Villa Park appears increasingly uncertain with each passing day, considering just how reliable the 24-year-old has been for Villa in the past, it would appear an extremely wise decision for Steven Gerrard to unleash the Brazilian against the Whites this weekend.

Indeed, the £31.5m-rated talent featured in all but four of Villa’s Premier League fixtures last season, over which the defensively-minded midfielder made an average of 1.7 tackles, one interception, 37.7 passes – at a success rate of 87% – and won 4.4 duels per game.

The £33k-per-week man also impressed in an attacking capacity, scoring two goals, registering three assists and creating three big chances for his teammates, in addition to taking an average of 0.7 shots, making 1.1 key passes and completing 0.7 dribbles per fixture.

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These returns saw the 24-year-old average an eye-catching SofaScore match rating of 6.89, ranking him as Villa’s ninth-best performer in the top flight of English football last time out.

Furthermore, despite his limited game time so far this season, the nine-cap international has still impressed when given the chance, averaging a SofaScore match rating of 6.83 over his six league outings in 2022/23 – a rating that only narrowly sees him rank below Kamara in Villa’s list of top performers this term, who has averaged a match rating of 6.86.

As such, it would indeed appear as if Luiz represents something of a perfect replacement for the injured Frenchman, leading us to believe that Gerrard simply must unleash the 24-year-old against Leeds this weekend.