Aston Villa go into the World Cup break in high spirits after recent performances, and Unai Emery will be delighted with the return of a key figure.
Following his appointment, Villa have secured back-to-back Premier League wins to move up to 12th place in the table, and although there was disappointment in the Carabao Cup, there were positive early signs and an opportunity for Emery to continue to learn about his squad.
While the results were important and gave all concerned a major lift, the first few games of Emery’s tenure was likely always about getting to know his squad and identifying how and where we can improve to bring long-term success and improvement.
Hopefully, the Villa boss has already taken away key assessments to consider over the break, but the next month or so will also provide him with a great opportunity to work closely with his players and get across his ideas and style of play further so that we return in late December really looking like an Unai Emery side.
Kamara return a huge boost for Villa, Emery
However, one major boost he was handed this week was the return of Boubacar Kamara, with the Frenchman showing his class again after a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.
France’s loss is our gain after he didn’t make their World Cup squad, and while he was highly influential in our play before the injury setback, he has wasted little time in showing his quality on his return.
The 22-year-old got minutes off the bench against Man Utd on November 6 before completing back-to-back 90 minutes and particularly against Brighton, he showed how important he is for us.
Aside from 48 touches of the ball with 80% passing accuracy, he won eight of 11 ground duels, made five clearances and six tackles.
Beyond the numbers though, it’s how he intervenes and breaks up the opposition’s rhythm and moves in our defensive third, it’s how he pushes the ball forward quickly into the feet of our attacking players to transition into attack quicker and it’s how his physical presence and positional awareness provides critical protection for the backline.
Leander Dendoncker did a brilliant job alongside Douglas Luiz in the games before Kamara’s return and it’s harsh in a way that he has lost his spot in the Villa starting XI.
However, based on how influential and important Kamara has been for us already in both phases of the game, he is our elite option in that department and has also struck up a positive partnership with Luiz where the pair complement each other well.
Hopefully, Dendoncker will get opportunities along the way too, as will Morgan Sanson, but Kamara’s presence in the side is a game-changer for us, and with Diego Carlos hopefully returning with plenty of football still to be played this season, Emery will have top level options at his disposal to continue to move us in the right direction.