After playing a key role in Aston Villa’s win over Tottenham, Emi Buendia will be hoping that it’s the start of things to come for him in the final third.
The 26-year-old opened the scoring in north London on Sunday in our impressive 2-0 win, his first goal since scoring in the win over Everton back in August.
That was some wait particularly having been a more regular fixture in the Villa XI since Steven Gerrard’s departure, and so the Argentine playmaker would undoubtedly have been relieved to end that barren run and start the New Year on a positive note.
Buendia hasn’t played less than 74 minutes in a Premier League game since Unai Emery took charge, and so it’s clear that he has a major role to play for the Villa boss who values what he brings to the team highly.
Whether it’s his tenacity and work ethic off the ball to track back and press or his creativity and technical ability in the final third to add quality to our attacking play, we haven’t managed to get the best out of Buendia since his move from Norwich, but Emery appears to be making him a focal point in his side.
It wasn’t long ago that Buendia himself conceded that he needs to add more goals and assists to his game, as that was the glaring missing piece to go along with his positive play and influence for us.
Further, while the frustration from some quarters with him is understandable at times to an extent, he is constantly looking to be positive in the final third to make something happen for us and is willing to take risks. Villa need that dynamic in this side to unlock teams, to be a threat and not be predictable, and so it’s hoped that his goal will be a real confidence boost for him to continue doing that and not shy away from his natural game.
Playing out on the left in a 4-4-2 but with freedom to roam inside, Buendia now has the role and importance in this Villa side that he would have craved, and it would undoubtedly have been a major frustration for him to not make a bigger impact than he did in the first games of Emery’s tenure.
With his goalscoring drought now over, it’s hoped he can kick on and really start to lead the way for us in games on a consistent basis as he truly does feel like an Emery player in terms of fitting into his style of play and identity given what he offers in both phases of the game.
Along with his goal, Buendia had 75 percent passing completion, 43 touches, two key passes, won five of 10 duels while making four tackles, one interception and one clearance.
He really does offer a bit of everything, and while his challenge is to get those all-important goal contribution numbers up, the signs are positive that Emery will give him the stage and trust to go out and do it for us.