Unai Emery has enjoyed a terrific start to life in charge of Aston Villa by winning eight of his first 14 Premier League matches at the helm since replacing Steven Gerrard earlier this season.

One of his former teams, Arsenal, are outshining the Villans in the division this season, though, as the Gunners are currently top of the table with 11 games to play.

Emery had the pleasure of managing a number of their current squad during his time at The Emirates; including Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Reiss Nelson.

They are now playing their part in a potential title-winning campaign and the Spaniard could use inspiration from his work with those talents to develop some of Villa's promising young players.

Only three outfield stars featured in more games for Emery than Xhaka during his spell with Arsenal and the boss could find his next version of the Switzerland international by unearthing Tim Iroegbunam next season.

Who is Tim Iroegbunam?

He is a 19-year-old central midfielder who has graduated from the Villa academy and is currently out on loan at Queens Park Rangers until the end of the campaign.

Like Xhaka, the England U20 international is a tall and combative force at 5 foot 11 in the middle of the park, someone who is also capable of contributing at both ends of the pitch.

In the Premier League this season, the Arsenal enforcer has scored three goals and provided five assists from midfield while averaging 1.4 key passes and 1.2 tackles and interceptions per game - winning 53% of his individual duels.

Iroegbunam, who scored four goals and provided four assists in 30 matches for West Brom's U18s, was recently described by manager Gareth Ainsworth as a player who "glides past people and can finish with both feet" and this highlights his attacking threat.

The "impressive" - as dubbed by ex-coach Michael Beale - teenager has only scored twice in 25 Championship starts for QPR but is in his first season of regular first-team football and is still finding his feet at first-team level.

His defensive attributes are also there for all to see. In the Premier League last season, the youngster made five tackles and interceptions combined and won four of his six duels in a 2-0 win over Norwich, which shows that he has the quality to make an impact at the top level on his day.

Iroegbunam, who has averaged 2.9 tackles and interceptions per match in the Championship, is a midfielder with the potential to influence games at both ends of the pitch and Emery could utilise his talent as a box-to-box player, as he did in 51 games with Xhaka.

Therefore, the Spaniard could unearth his next version of the possible title-winner by bringing the teenage Villa talent into the squad for pre-season this summer after his loan spell in London.

2023-03-19T08:37:59Z dg43tfdfdgfd