Douglas Luiz seems to be coming out of his winter slump at the tail end of January.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
In his last two appearances for Aston Villa, Douglas Luiz has come from the bench to spearhead Dean Smith’s side back into games that they were trailing in.
The once capped Brazilian international arrived on the scene against Brighton & Hove Albion during the past weekend’s game, before capitalising on a weak pass, bursting forward and hurling an exceptional curled ball into the path of Jack Grealish – who ferociously buried the ball into the back of the net.
Against Watford this week, Luiz once again replaced Danny Drinkwater before he sprinted to get on the end of a parried ball and finished emphatically into the roof of the net at the far post, before diving into the Holte End like a fan running into a moshpit at a heavy metal gig.
With two goal contributions in his last 69 minutes of football, it seems that Douglas Luiz has come out at the other side of his ‘winter slump’ which seemingly ended with his mistake that leads to Leicester City’s equaliser in the first leg of the Carabao Cup Semi-Final.
Douglas Luiz was dropped to ease Danny Drinkwater back into regular Premier League football – which isn’t a bad move by Dean Smith – the more fit midfielders we have the better, but the decision not to give Drinkwater the closing stages of the game rather than the opening hour or so was questioned heavily by supporters.
The aforementioned Drinkwater may very well start the game against his former peers in Leicester City at Villa Park, but it is the young Brazilian starlet who needs to be in the midfield when Aston Villa travel to the Vitality Stadium in early February.
Luiz, who has already experienced relegation in his career during his loan move to then La Liga side Girona, looks fired up and ready to kick on as Aston Villa push away from the relegation zone.
The way that Douglas is being utilised by Dean Smith looks a little different to what we may have been used to over his last two appearances. With John McGinn out for at least another two months at a bare minimum, Luiz looks like he has picked up more of the ‘midfield unicorn’ role often employed by Aston Villa’s McGinn.
In the appearances that Luiz made against Brighton and Watford, the Brazilian looked more comfortable in his role that provided a natural balance between defensive and offensive responsibility – with the midfielder playing more passes into the opposition’s final third than in his previous three games against Burnley, Manchester City and the cup game against Leicester.
How the midfield looks when McGinn returns remains to be seen, but with the Scot currently absent, using Douglas Luiz to his full potential could be a key decision by the manager.