Key Villa ace shows level of influence he must produce consistently

While it’s always difficult to look at positives immediately after a disappointing result, Emiliano Buendia’s performance in Aston Villa’s defeat to Leicester City was a stand-out boost.

The 26-year-old acknowledged himself not long ago that he needs to increase his numbers in terms of goal involvements, and we’ve seen an improvement in that regard since Unai Emery took charge as Buendia has bagged two goals in his last five Premier League outings.

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He was highly unfortunate not to add to that tally on Saturday having hit the crossbar twice, and while he is posing a bigger goal threat under Emery, his overall influence on our attacking play was impressive this past weekend and it’s a standard that he now has to maintain and show consistency with.

As seen in the video below, Buendia was involved in big moments in the game from an attacking perspective. He did well finding space between the lines to link up our play, while he provided constant movement off the ball to give his teammates an option.

He also showed his class when taking players on and playing probing passes that create openings, and if it wasn’t for a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal, he would have possibly registered one or two assists.

The Argentine playmaker is an intelligent player in terms of his awareness and positioning, he has the technical quality and vision to be a real creative spark and this was certainly one of the more positive performances he has produced for us.

Buendia heatmap vs Leicester

As we can see from his heat-map above, he was predominantly deployed down the left side but with the freedom to cut inside and play in more central areas, and he seemingly relished that role which allowed him to roam, to get on the ball and dictate our play.

Buendia ended the game with 92% passing accuracy, five attempts on goal, two shot assists and three progressive runs. While he did surrender possession more than he would have liked, that’s part of his game as he has the courage and technical quality to try to create and not always play the safe pass, although he will be disappointed with the number of duels he lost out in despite winning possession back twice in the opposition half.

As noted above, the disappointment of losing overshadowed the positives in the immediate aftermath of the game, but this was a positive display from Buendia who is going to continue to play a prominent role for Emery.

If he can build on this, but importantly show consistency and maintain this level of creativity and influence, he’ll be a driving force in our attacking play and cause a lot of teams problems between now and the end of the season.

Villa don’t have the luxury of too many options like Buendia in terms of what he offers, with an out-of-form Philippe Coutinho the only real alternative but he’s still searching for a catalyst that will spark him back into life. In turn, it’s imperative we get the very best out of Buendia, and this was a really promising shift from the Argentine but ultimately in a losing cause.

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