How Emi Buendia has emerged as driving force in Villa attack

After early struggles following his switch to Aston Villa, an ever-improving Emiliano Buendia is starting to become the stand-out player for Steven Gerrard.

As per BBC Sport, Villa were said to have spent £33m to sign the 24-year-old from Norwich City last summer, making him the club’s record signing.

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Naturally, with that fee comes a different level of pressure and expectation, and aside from his strike against Brentford early on in the Premier League campaign, Villa fans have had to be patient as we waited for him to find his feet.

Two goals and three assists in 21 appearances so far this season still suggest that we’ve not yet seen Buendia’s best over a consistent period of time, but over the last month or so in particular, we’ve certainly seen a significant improvement in both his performance and his influence on the team.

Buendia confident he’d find his way at Villa

As he noted to Sky Sports prior to our league meeting with Man Utd earlier this month, Buendia insisted that he was improving week by week and that the ‘best version of myself is coming soon’.

We’ve seen that level of confidence build on the pitch, particularly since Gerrard’s arrival, and he is not only getting into great positions, driving at defences, picking out dangerous passes and having a real influence on our overall attacking play, but he’s starting to show that flair and skilful side to his game too.

The important thing for Buendia was that he never stopped trying to make things happen or got away from his natural game. While it must have been doubly frustrating for him to see that killer final ball but fail to pull it off or find a way past his marker without giving up possession, he stuck with it and trusted his quality to come to the fore.

That in turn has led to a significant difference in the response he gets from the Villa faithful, as there is now a buzz of excitement when he picks up the ball compared to the groans when he would misplace a pass and a move would break down.

With a winning goal at Everton under his belt this past weekend as well as an assist against Brentford a couple of games ago, Buendia will be desperate to now build up his numbers and become a real decisive figure in the final third for Villa.

He now has the chance to go away on international duty and make his senior Argentina debut which will no doubt just build his confidence and belief even more, and the hope is that he’ll play a huge role for us between now and the end of the season to help us climb the Premier League table and compete at the level we want to be at.

Aside from the attacking quality he brings to the Villa side, it’s Buendia’s work ethic, defensive determination and the desire to compete that also makes him an ideal fit for Gerrard, as his all-action and committed approach is great to have as an influential leading figure of the side.

It took longer than hoped, but not only is that patience with Buendia starting to be rewarded, but it looks so promising moving forward in terms of what he can give us. Gerrard will no doubt be delighted with the improvement he’s seen, and combined with a fitter and sharper Philippe Coutinho, our South American duo will hopefully be a nightmare for opposition defences in the coming months.