Decision time for Emery as Aston Villa star walks suspension tightrope

Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League
Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Douglas Luiz is in danger of missing key fixtures for his team. After picking up his ninth yellow card against Manchester City, the Brazilian is one booking away from a two-match suspension. This precarious situation leaves manager Unai Emery with a headache ahead of their Saturday showdown with Brentford.

Luiz's importance to Villa's campaign cannot be overstated. The 25-year-old has been a driving force with 10 goals and 10 assists across all competitions this season. So, should Emery risk fielding Luiz and possibly lose him for subsequent games against Arsenal and Bournemouth – matches pivotal to their top-four ambitions? Or should he play it safe and potentially disrupt the team's rhythm?

The stakes are incredibly high for Aston Villa. Luiz's ball-winning ability, intelligent distribution, and attacking threat make him a near-irreplaceable asset to their midfield. His absence could leave their engine room vulnerable and tip the balance in favour of their Premier League rivals.

Douglas Luiz
Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Yet, a ray of hope shines through for both Luiz and Aston Villa. Premier League yellow card counts reset after a team's 32nd match. If Luiz escapes a booking against Brentford, he'll have a clean slate for the season's final push, a period where every point counts in the race for Champions League football.

Emery has options, however. John McGinn, returning from his own suspension, brings tenacity and energy to the midfield. Youri Tielemans, rested during the midweek fixture, offers composure and technical ability. Both players could step in to fill the void if Luiz is deemed too risky a selection.

The decision rests solely on Emery's shoulders. Does he prioritise fielding his strongest possible lineup against Brentford, risking Luiz's unavailability later on, or does he opt for pragmatism, potentially sacrificing immediate results for long-term gain?

Fans will be glued to the team sheet released before kick-off on Saturday. Luiz's presence or absence will reveal Emery's mindset. The inclusion of McGinn or Tielemans would also provide valuable insights into his strategy.

The repercussions of his decision will only be revealed in time. Will Aston Villa gamble on fielding Luiz against Brentford, or prioritise his availability for the long game? Regardless of the choice, the outcome of these matches will be crucial in the thrilling narrative of Aston Villa's quest for a return to Europe's elite competition.