By now, everyone has gotten used to the fact that Douglas Luiz is the preferred choice for the Aston Villa midfield anchor-man role.
The Brazilian has cemented his place in the Villa midfield and has started in 33 out of 34 matches, numbers which make it crystal clear he is the man Dean Smith prefers for that position.
Luiz’s consistence is however Marvelous Nakamba’s setback- the Zimbabwean midfielder’s role at Villa Pak is now a peripheral one and he rarely features for the Midlands side.
Yesterday’s 1-3 home loss to West Ham however, which came courtesy of Man United reject Jesse Lingard’s double and a Thomas Soucek opener, might be a wakeup call for Smith to re-shuffle his cards in middle of the park.
A visibly-tired Luiz struggle to protect the Villa backline alone, with Ross Barkley and John McGinn both employed in the number 10 role.
What Villa perhaps need at this point in time, with games coming thick and fast in the Premier League and fatigue an inevitable problem, is Nakamba’s feasibly not impressive but very effective kind of play in midfield.
In his post-match analysis, club writer Ashley Preece did not necessary point to the idea of partnering Luiz with Nakamba but he did suggest for changes to be made in the team, particularly in midfield.
“Villa looked laboured right from the word go last night and only came alive for a few minutes as Watkins scored late on. But could a couple of fine tweaks – similar to what West Ham did and others such as Man City do – be just the answer as we head into the second half of the season? Given the performance then a shake-up is likely with the likes of Morgan Sanson, Trezeguet and others perhaps deserving their crack now. It begs the question as well; does your McGinns and Barkleys need a well-deserved rest?” wrote Preece.
Interestingly, the last time Smith employed the Nakamba-Luiz combination, the claret and blue cruised to an impressive 2-0 win over Newcastle United, with both payers getting a rating of 7.5 and 7 out of 10 respectively.
Smith resorted to a one anchor-man system (Luiz alone) in the next game against Burnley, which Villa lost 2-3.
What if the Luiz-Nakamba combination is what Aston Villa need right now?