Influential Villa ace starting to make important impact that was lacking

After scoring his second goal in our last three Premier League games, Aston Villa ace Emiliano Buendia is starting to find some long-awaited form in front of goal.

The 26-year-old hasn’t yet hit the heights expected when he arrived from Norwich City in July 2021, as he has registered seven goals and seven assists in 59 appearances.

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While Buendia himself recently conceded that he needs to offer more, he wasn’t particularly helped under previous managers by not being given an extended run in the side to find his feet and showcase his quality on a consistent basis.

“It’s something I have to improve and I try to arrive more in the opponents’ box,” he told Villa TV after scoring in our win over Tottenham on New Year’s Day. “So, here, I followed Ollie and he followed the rebound very well, I was behind him. He passed to me and I could score.

“I’m really happy to help the team and, with the win, it’s an unbelievable feeling to start 2023.”

It’s been a different story under Unai Emery though, as Buendia has started all six Premier League games since the Spanish tactician took charge, and has been a fundamental figure in his plans thus far.

The Argentine playmaker’s flair, vision and courage to probe and continue to look for ways to break down the opposition are key strengths, as he’s not afraid to take risks and show his creativity for the good of the team.

While it may lead to moves breaking down and frustration from some quarters, we need players capable of making the difference with moments of quality, and when you add his work ethic, desire and determination to what he brings to the Villa XI, Buendia is a well-rounded player who is important in both phases of the game.

That being said, it is fair to demand more from him, particularly in the final third when it comes to goals and assists as ultimately that is what he is in the side for to provide.

His comments above emphasis the point that he is fully aware of where he needs to improve still, and we’re starting to see signs of it in the last few games.

While he hasn’t been at his creative best in those encounters, Buendia is starting to get into the right areas to be decisive, and more often that not when he does score, it proves to be an invaluable contribution that helps us on our way to victory.

In the three league games that he has scored in so far this season, Villa have gone on to win them all, with his strike proving to be the ‘winning’ effort in two of them.

The impressive part of the two goals he’s scored under Emery is how they’ve come about. His efforts against Spurs and Leeds have both come from drifting into the box to follow up and being more opportunistic. It’s been about being in the right place at the right time, and if Buendia can develop a talent for that, he’ll start scoring many more goals for us.

Having been used on the left wing and through the middle in an advanced role under Emery, there will be a need for tactical flexibility from him and the rest of the squad. However, perhaps as Emery continues to strengthen his Villa squad with his own players, he has clearer positioning and roles for certain individuals, and putting Buendia closer to goal where he can be decisive might be a hugely beneficial move.

There is still a long way to go but hopefully Buendia can be consistent with that now and increase his overall influence for us. He sets a certain tempo and intensity to our play in and out of possession and has the creative mind to open defences up, and if he can add a cutting edge to that play to go with these goals, he’s going to increasingly flourish under Emery.