Douglas Luiz is proving why he was a player on Pep Guardiola’s radar a few seasons ago as he continued his brilliant form with 2 goals against West Ham United at home. His brace, alongside goals from Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey, moved them to fifth in the Premier League, just two points off top spot. It was a long-awaited victory for Villa as they ended an eight-year wait for a win against the Hammers after recording just one win in the last 10 years. Moreover, the win marks their eleventh consecutive home victory in the Premier League and inches them closer to the coveted Champions League spot.
— Premier League (@premierleague) October 22, 2023
Douglas Luiz Becomes The First Villa Player to Score in 6 Consecutive Premier League Games
Douglas Luiz has been one of the standout players this season, and he continues to make people doubt why Steven Gerrard was willing to offload him last year. The 25-year-old Brazilian has become a Rodri/Gundogan mix for Unai Emery, as he can break up play, score from outside the box and even sneak into the box to provide crucial goals for his team. His two goals today mark his fifth of the season and grant him the honour of becoming the first Villa player to score in 6 consecutive Premier League games.
It was a dominant start for Villa as they came close multiple times in breaking the deadlock before Douglas Luiz scored a brilliant goal from the edge of the box after a clever cut-back from Watkins. Villa may feel disheartened since they were only 1 goal up at the break, but Douglas Luiz confidently stepped up in the 52nd minute and slotted his pen past the theatrical Emi Martínez. While Jarrod Bowen’s deflected shot ignited some worries in the Villa camp, they eventually captured a dominant win, with goals from Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey.
The win cemented claims of Douglas Luiz becoming a prolific goal-scoring midfielder, as Villa had not had such a player as Douglas Luiz since Dwight Yorke scored in eight successive top-flight home games in 1991. The win also marks the accomplishments of Unai Emery as he had managed to turn a disjointed villa side into a fluid and entertaining side with a solid backbone. To put into perspective, only Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool have gained more wins over his period with the club. Moreover, only Newcastle have scored more Premier League goals than Villa this autumn, as they reached 19 points, their best tally after nine games for 25 years.
Douglas Luiz becomes the first Aston Villa player to score in SIX straight Premier League games at home 🏠 pic.twitter.com/GWS1QcvUmo
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 22, 2023
Unai Emery Celebrates First Anniversary and States Champions League Ambitions
Furthermore, the game against the Hammers marks the first anniversary of Unai Emery being in charge of the club since the disaster under Steven Gerrard. Despite the splendid renaissance, the ex-Arsenal manager was humble in his press conference, as he mentioned clubs like Newcastle, Chelsea and Manchester United are still above them, and they needed some consistency before aiming for the top. However, he did state his desire to win the Champions League one day.
“One of our dreams is to be with the top seven teams and to do something in Europe. Getting European football is very important, and that is the work we must try to do. We need to be consistent in what we are doing.” Consistency is not something foreign for Unai Emery as who can forget his one-handed dominance of the Europa League from 2014-2016, where his Sevilla team won the trophy thrice in succession.
Moreover, despite the brilliant display from Douglas Luiz, Emery wanted more from his prize midfielder as he left some criticism after praising the Brazilian. “It is a credit to him, firstly. I am delighted with him. But I think Douglas Luiz can do better. There were some moments after he scored the two goals when we were trying to control the game, and I was not happy because he was too relaxed. We have to see where we can improve everybody. I was very demanding of the players to try and score another goal. After the third goal, we controlled the game.”
Can Aston Villa Contest for a Champions League Spot?
Despite the harsh positive reinforcement, Unai Emery must be delighted with how Douglas Luiz and his team performed, as they are now just two points behind leaders Manchester and one point behind 4th place gatekeeper Spurs. While a positive result for Spurs on Tuesday could stretch the gap, it is a far cry from the seasons where they finished in the bottom half of the table.
Therefore, it begs the question. Is Aston Villa ready to contest for a Champions League spot? Our verdict is no. Despite their brilliant displays at home against close Europa rivals like Brighton and West Ham, they have suffered against the big teams like Liverpool and Newcastle away from home. Moreover, their away record and consistency away from home is a massive factor in why we at OtherLeague think they will slightly miss out on a Champions League spot.
Do you agree with our take? Let us know in the comments below. To catch the highlights of your favourite matches, head to AsiaSport for high-definition highlights like the contest we mentioned here.