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Aston Villa: Douglas Luiz an instant success under Steven Gerrard

He’s long been one of the first names on the team sheet, but Douglas Luiz has a new role in the Aston Villa midfield and he’s absolutely thriving under new boss Steven Gerrard.

Traditionally playing as the holding midfielder, Luiz made a name for himself under Dean Smith as one of the best in the division. A strong tackler, with good positional awareness and excellent physical qualities, Luiz joined from Manchester City in a £15m deal after he was unable to secure a work permit for the then-champions.

He walked straight into the newly promoted midfield and featured in 36 Premier League fixtures, level with Jack Grealish for the most of anyone in the squad. After avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth, he continued to be a mainstay the following season and made 33 appearances as Villa made a push for Europe.

His form during that season saw him linked with potential transfers back to Man City and abroad, with his ball-playing qualities becoming more apparent. He even earned more regular call-ups to the senior Brazil national team, winning four caps in both 2020 and 2021 to take his total tally to nine.

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The start of this season saw his form drop off, as the Midlands side claimed just ten points from the first 11 games and Smith was sacked, replaced by Liverpool legend Gerrard. Since then, Villa fans have seen Luiz play in a slightly different role but they have seen the 23-year-old recapture his old form but with an added twist of creativity.

Luiz has managed to register three assists already this season, with the most recent coming in the 2-1 defeat to Man City where he started the game in a more advanced, box-to-box role. With Marvelous Nakamba holding the fort behind him, Luiz has been able to use his excellent passing range and dribbling in a more attacking way to help Villa build their play from the back. He was excellent against Leicester in the 2-1 win at the weekend, winning 80% of his duels including a team-high four aerial duels.

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The three assists he’s registered in 11 appearances so far trump or equal the tally of the previous two full seasons in that department, while his ability to win the ball back higher up the pitch is a positive and a big part of why Gerrard’s side have been successful since he took over this season.

The £31.5m-rated bulldozer is currently averaging 1.6 key passes per game this season compared to 0.6 last season, while he’s also averaging 1.1 successful dribbles compared to 0.7 last season.

With the Villa squad taking on a new lease of life under the new boss, Luiz is a big part of that and deserves the plaudits for taking to his new role so well.

AND in other news, Matty Cash stole the show against Leicester City

Article title: Aston Villa: Douglas Luiz an instant success under Steven Gerrard

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