It’s another transitional season for the Villans, but if they head in the right direction, Emiliano Buendia will be at the heart of it.
Words: Matt Blogg | @Blogg_Matt
When Emiliano Buendia signed for Aston Villa in the summer, there was a lot of excitement, a lot of optimism, and above all, a lot of hope. Hope that he could be the man to take the team to the next level on the pitch, and while it has taken the Argentine some time to settle and find his Premier League feet, the Villa Park faithful are finally starting to see why Villa were willing to part with the best part of £40m to secure his signature.
Initially, of course, the expectation for Villa fans was that Buendia had been brought in to play alongside Jack Grealish, but when that dream was suddenly proven too good to be true, attention turned to the little Argentine being the main man. If reports are to be believed, Buendia turned down approaches from Arsenal to agree a deal with the Villans, so fans had every reason to get over-excited at the potential of the upcoming season, especially given Buendia had just set unprecedented standards in the Championship the season before.
He got off to flier too, with two sensational assists in the first game of pre-season in a comfortable win against League Two’s Walsall, and everything was looking very promising. But it did die down, and his Premier League season started slowly. Fans saw glimpses of quality, such as his well-taken goal at home to Brentford, a clever assist for Ollie Watkins at home to West Ham, and little touches and turns in various matches, but Buendia was struggling to adapt to the physicality and pace of the Premier League after a season in the Sky Bet Championship.
Villa’s number 10 featured in every one of the five successive defeats which saw Dean Smith lose his job, and was struggling to really affect games in significant ways. But since Steven Gerrard has walked through the doors, the summer signing has started to become more influential, and is growing into the Premier League week on week.
He will always lose possession more than most players because he doesn’t settle for the safe option a lot of the time, and while it can be frustrating, you also want your creative midfielder looking for killer passes, so it isn’t something to look too deeply into.
In the recent defeat to Brentford, Buendia was noticeably better than every player on the pitch, and his magical turn and pass to set up Danny Ings for his fourth goal of the season showed everyone what he’s about. The rugby pitch made it very difficult for Steven Gerrard’s side to play the football that fans have become accustomed to seeing, but Buendia was everywhere, and the home side simply couldn’t contain him. It was incredibly tough to accept going into the break at 1-1 after the dominance that Villa had enjoyed, and that was largely down to the occasional brilliance of the Argentine.
In the second half, Aston Villa struggled to match their first half performance and put 90 minutes of quality together, a frustratingly common theme from the season so far, but that can’t take away from Emi Buendia’s individual performance.
If every player in the cursed Villa third shirt was at his level throughout the game, the away side would surely have left with all the points, so the signs are definitely good. The season is becoming another transitional season for the Villans, but as soon as the consistency to perform for the entirety of the 90 minutes is found, Steven Gerrard’s team will be a seriously exciting prospect.
And Emiliano Buendia will be at the heart of it. Slowly coming into his own, Villa’s main creative outlet is only going to get better from here, with fitness developing, confidence growing, and Premier League quality starting to shine through. He’s forming important relationships with the likes of Douglas Luiz too, which is both exciting and effective. Of course, he needs to find consistency, but fans are starting to see the best of Buendia, and have every reason to hold high hopes for the remainder of this campaign. The Argentine is coming good, and Aston Villa are ready to benefit.