By Anthony Onifade

2nd Oct, 2023 | 8:10pm

Unai Emery now set for critical Alex Moreno decision at Aston Villa as new Lucas Digne dilemma emerges

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery could be set to make a critical squad decision for their next two fixtures against Zrinjski and Wolves after a new Lucas Digne dilemma emerges.

As pointed out by Birmingham Live on Monday (2 October), the Frenchman is now just one yellow card away from suspension in the Premier League which may force Emery to start Alex Moreno in either of those two games.

Both Digne and Douglas Luiz have racked up four yellow cards each after the first seven Premier League games this season which means another yellow could mean an automatic suspension with the club facing some critical fixtures starting against Wolves on Sunday (8 October).

Digne has stepped up in Alex Moreno’s absence at the start of this campaign as the Spaniard continues to recover from a hamstring injury which he suffered back in May.

Moreno had returned to the matchday squad against Crystal Palace but did not travel with the squad to Stamford Bridge last month as Unai Emery claimed (via journalist John Townley, 24 September) he is not 100 per cent comfortable to compete.

Emery will be looking to accumulate six points from six this coming week, when they take on Zrinjski on Thursday in the Europa Conference League before facing off against Midlands rivals Wolves at the weekend and playing Digne on Sunday may well present an untimely risk.

The Spaniard may well be forced to start Digne on Thursday and bring the very capable Moreno back from the injury wilderness at the Molineux Stadium on Sunday.

Moreno made 19 Premier League appearances after becoming boss Unai Emery’s first signing when he joined in a £13million move from Real Betis in January, establishing himself as a regular starter before his injury.

Moreno was terrific for the Villans last season, recording three assists from his 19 league appearances, topping his expected assists (xA) of 2.58, averaging 1.2 key passes, completing 46% of his dribbles and also averaging 1.2 tackles per game [SofaScore].

According to the Opta-powered stats at FBREF, over the last year, out of every full-back in the top five European leagues, Moreno is in the 96th percentile of players for progressive carries (3.87) and the top 20% of his counterparts for progressive passes received (6.16 per 90) and successful take-ons (1.24 per 90).

Moreno’s attacking qualities have been well documented, and in an Aston Villa side that alters their tactical framework to allow the Spaniard to bomb forward, it has proven the perfect match.

While Digne has dramatically and considerably improved his attacking game so far this campaign, it will be a blow to lose him should he pick up a suspension in the coming weeks, but Emery may well be minded to hand Moreno some much-needed game time to pick up his match-rhythm again ahead of the upcoming international break.

Emery is certainly set for a major selection headache this week, but unfortunately, that’s the price of having such quality options to choose from in just one position.

In other Aston Villa news, an Aston Villa Women defender has been handed a club honour following the exit of one player.