Key Villa task for Smith emerging as he must find way to get best of Buendia

While it’s been an indifferent but positive start to the season for Aston Villa, Dean Smith will be eager to get the best out of club-record signing Emiliano Buendia in the coming weeks and months.

It’s been a difficult setting-in period for the Argentine international, as he had to deal with a knock in pre-season while missing a significant period last month through reporting for international duty.

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That has starved Smith and Villa of the opportunity to see him consistently over a run of games, while the switch to a 3-5-2 system in the last few outings has ensured that he’s been limited to a bench role.

However, that will arguably soon change as a player of his quality can’t stay on the sidelines for too long as the 24-year-old brings creativity, technical quality and a threat in the final third that we need to utilise on a regular basis and get the best out of to progress.

Thus far, Buendia has just one goal and no assists in six appearances in a Villa shirt, but as noted above, those last two appearances in the Premier League have seen him total 33 minutes of playing time.

Debate will continue over what is Villa’s best system and whether or not we should switch to a 4-3-3 against Wolves after the international break, but Smith knows that it’s important we see Buendia firing on all cylinders, amongst others.

System switch to give Buendia ideal role to shine

While he has appeared to struggle when playing through the middle, and if we look back on his success at Norwich City and see that he predominantly played on the right flank and enjoyed himself in that role, that is ultimately where Villa eventually need to fit him in.

Buendia showed that against Brentford with his ability to cut inside and drift into the middle, he can pose a direct threat himself as he produced a brilliant finish to open his account in a Villa shirt, while that ability to roam and float in the final third will open up spaces for him to create for others too.

Whether it’s a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, Smith has tactical flexibility this season given the personnel at his disposal, and both those systems would cater for Buendia playing out on the right, while it’s hoped that Leon Bailey will soon return from his injury setback to light up the opposite flank as he did against Everton.

It’s a difficult choice for Smith as these systems could mean that either Danny Ings or Ollie Watkins drop out, but especially in games where we expect to be on the front foot and be knocking on the door against sides looking to stay resolute defensively away from home, the likes of Buendia are needed and he will play a pivotal role for us during the course of the campaign.