ASTON VILLA'S 5-1 defeat to Newcastle on the opening weekend of the season feels a long time ago.
Since their humbling at St James' Park, Unai Emery's team have won six of their eight league games, scoring 22 goals in the process, and are three points above the Magpies in the table on the cusp of the top four.
The Villains are a force to be reckoned with at home having extended their 100% record at Villa Park with a 4-1 win over West Ham on Sunday – their previous home league fixture was a 6-1 victory against Brighton.
Naturally, this upsurge in domestic form, coupled with Europa Conference League outings, has resulted in a deluge of Dream Team points.
Gaffers have long been aware of the impressive returns delivered by the likes of Matty Cash (£3.2m), Ollie Watkins (£4.5m) and Moussa Diaby (£3.4m) but Douglas Luiz's (£3.1m) success has come as a pleasant surprise.
Primarily a combative midfielder, the 25-year-old has bagged five goals already this campaign (six if we include the European play-offs but those fixtures didn't count in the world of Dream Team).
This puts him level with Bukayo Saka (£6.4m), Callum Wilson (£4.2m) and team-mate Watkins in the all-important metric.
And the list of players Luiz is outscoring includes big names such as Darwin Nunez (£4m), Martin Odegaard (£5.1m) and Bruno Fernandes (£5.7m).
Granted, three of the Brazilian's goals have come from the penalty spot but Dream Team bosses should be aware of the most prolific spot-kick takers – they all count.
Emery's attacking approach, particularly at home, allows Luiz the freedom to get forward more often and he's proved to be an effective shooter around the edge of the box.
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Having scored just five goals in 111 appearances across his first three seasons at the club, he's notched his most recent 13 goals in little over a year.
Luiz's 16-point haul at the Hammers' expense is the joint-best haul of Gameweek 9 at the time of writing, alongside Chris Wood (£1.6m) who also scored a brace at the weekend.
Incredibly, the former Vasco de Gama midfielder is now Villa's second-best performer in 2023/24.
His overall total of 65 points puts him above the aforementioned Diaby (55 pts) and Cash (62 pts) with only Watkins (76 pts) denying him number one rank among Emery's squad.
In the broader scheme of things, Luiz is now joint-ninth among all midfielders, level with Fernandes and Anthony Gordon (£3.2m) – two assets significantly more popular than him.
In fact, with an ownership of 1.6%, Luiz appears in fewer teams than Sandro Tonali (£2.2m), Mason Mount (£3.2m) and James Garner (£2.2m) among others.
Villa's No6 is likely to be a relatively popular recruit ahead of Gameweek 10, especially with a home fixture against Luton in diary.
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