Film study: Douglas Luiz
Is he really “the perfect midfielder” for Arsenal?
It’s starting to feel like we can’t get through a full season without a report linking Arsenal with Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz.
Of course, Arsenal chased the Brazilian on Deadline Day 2022, with Twitter abuzz about dark vans leaving homes in Greater Birmingham, but the deal wasn’t to be. Reports at the time said that Villa, who were entering their final season with Luiz, wanted more than the £25 million final offer the Gunners had put in.
It was a risky move, but one that paid off for Villa. Luiz extended his contract a couple of months later and at present is tied to Aston Villa until 2026. Last season, he won Player of the Season in a campaign where Emery’s men qualified for the Europa League.
The interest in Luiz likely is built at least somewhat on Mikel Arteta’s familiarity with the player. Arteta was an assistant at Manchester City in 2017, when Luiz left boyhood club Vasco de Gama for England in a £10m deal.
Luiz never kicked a ball competitively for the Citizens, instead being shipped off to City-owned Girona in La Liga, where he made 24 starts in all competitions over two seasons.
Luiz did pretty well in Spain. Here’s his chart.
His performance caught the eye of Aston Villa, who snagged him for £15m in 2019.
All he’s done since is basically always start for Villa, having started 148 games in all comps, 136 in the Premier League.
Luiz has long been a solid middle-ish ranking defensive midfielder in my statistical threads, but this season so far sits fifth in my latest from last week. Here is the chart from that piece:
You can see here an active defender, good passer and carrier and duel winner who maybe doesn’t get terribly involved in the attacking third.
Luiz tends to start in a two-man midfield with Boubacar Kamara, who is usually the more defensively disciplined of the two. Luiz is right-footed but is almost always on the left of that partnership, although he stays pretty central generally speaking, with some combination of John McGinn, Youri Tielemans and Nicoló Zaniolo acting as more advanced players behind the up-front tandem of Diaby and Watkins.
But that’s enough fluff, eh? Let’s get into some video. I watched back Villa’s last two matches, a 3-1 win over Fulham and a 2-0 loss at Nottingham Forest, as well as their 4-1 win over West Ham from late October. Here’s what stood out…
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