Ast0n Villa boss Unai Emery provided his assessment on Leon Bailey after the forward struggled again at West Ham on Sunday.
The 25-year-old made an immediate impact and impression on the Villa boss by scoring in his first game in charge in our 3-1 win over Man Utd back in November.
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However, despite featuring in all 11 Premier League games since then in some capacity, Bailey has only managed to add one more goal to his tally and no assists, while he fired blanks in his two cup competition appearances too.
Beyond the lack of goal threat and creativity though, the Jamaican international is seemingly struggling to have any sort of influence or impact on our attacking performances.
Whether it’s because we’re struggling to play to his strengths and allowing him to utilise his main talents or if he’s not doing enough when given an opportunity, or perhaps a combination of both, it’s been an underwhelming run from Bailey who is arguably capable of producing much more.
Emery was asked about the Villa forward on Sunday in his post-match press conference, and while he was keen to point out the defensive job that Bailey does along with the rest of his teammates, he surely wants to see more from him in terms of being an offensive threat more consistently too.
“Leon Bailey, he’s playing in his best position in the squad and we’re speaking to him, trying to improve and to use his characteristic getting wide, one-on-one and sometimes playing more between a No.7 and No.9,” Emery told reporters, as quoted by BirminghamLive. “He can have better moments and I told him before the match that, sometimes, to play a brilliant match is not only offensively but sometimes defensively.
“We will need to do it and our performances away before this match were winning four from five. Today we drew. That is very good performances. Basically it’s because defensively we’re very committed with everybody and we have to be brilliant defensively.”
While Ollie Watkins has been in excellent form and we’ve had others chip in with a goal here and there, Villa need to be more dynamic in attack and have different threats from different areas to truly cause teams problems.
We can’t continue to rely so heavily on Watkins, albeit if he continues to score goals to win us games then no one will complain as such, but the likes of Bailey, Emiliano Buendia and Jacob Ramsey to name a few, have to step up and produce in the final third to lessen that burden on our frontman.
Bailey has had ample opportunity to showcase his quality and cement his place in the side, but as he continues to come up short in an attacking sense, the likes of Bertrand Traore and Jhon Duran are surely knocking on the door that bit louder now to get a bigger role, and thus potentially force Bailey to have a spell on the bench and try to rediscover some form as an impact substitute.