Emery delivers verdict on Alex Moreno’s Villa debut

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery was pleased with what he saw from new signing Alex Moreno after he made his debut in our 2-1 win over Leeds Utd on Friday night.

It would have been tricky for the 29-year-old Spaniard, as having only arrived on Wednesday, he was thrust into action just 10 minutes into the encounter with Leeds due to Lucas Digne’s injury.

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Having had less than 48 hours to build chemistry and confidence with new teammates, and especially having not started the game, it would have been a very difficult scenario for him to enter into, but he did impressively well in both phases of the game and played a key role in helping us secure all three points.

It remains to be seen if Digne now faces a significant spell on the sidelines or not, but Moreno certainly hasn’t done his chances any harm of cementing his place in the Villa starting XI moving forward.

Aside from putting in a solid defensive shift for the team, the Spanish full-back pushed forward regularly and offered width and an attacking threat down our left flank, resulting in a couple of attempts on goal for him and some good deliveries into the box as well as some clever cut-back passes to create openings.

“He was very important and the club worked very well to have him as an option from the bench,” Emery told the media in his post-match press conference, as per BirminghamLive. “With Lucas injured, he was very important. His impact was good and his adaptation is going to be better having played tonight, with the rhythm and intensity. I think, for him, it’s important and for the team as well that he plays so soon.

“He has to adapt. His adaptation is going to be quicker having played tonight. He struggled a little bit with the rhythm and intensity. It was different but he reacted very, very well.

“He finished the match showing us his skill and he got in the box and had two good chances to score. He crossed some good balls as well. I’m so happy with him and Lucas and I want to have players competing and being better in the squad, the possibility to use different profiles with the squad and, with both, I’m so happy.”

Moreno will undoubtedly improve as he plays more with his new Villa teammates and adapts to what Emery wants from him, but the early signs are already positive in terms of the influence he can have on our play.

It’s important that the defensive unit as a whole tightens up moving forward to give us a solid base, but as others learn his game and what Emery wants from him and vice versa, it should lead to us having a more consistent threat down our left flank and the quality to create chances and cause teams problems.

With doubts over Digne’s availability, the expectation is that Moreno will now get a chance to build on his impressive debut when we travel to face Southampton next Saturday, and so it’s important that he now has a week to continue to settle and acclimatise ahead of another difficult assignment.