By Anthony Onifade

14th Feb, 2023 | 7:50pm

View: Leon Bailey could be walking tightrope in Aston Villa XI after Jhon Duran impressive Manchester City cameo

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery will have been mightily impressed by the brief performance of Jhon Duran against Manchester City on Sunday, and Leon Bailey’s starting spot could well be under threat in the coming weeks.

The West Midlands outfit were made to pay for some slack defending as Pep Guardiola’s champions tore through Villa at the Etihad to close the gap to Arsenal and consign them to their fifth defeat under the Spanish boss.

City ran riot in the first half though and were 3-0 up at the break thanks to goals from Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez.

Ollie Watkins managed to pull one back for Villa, as Emery’s men threatened to make it a nervy last few minutes for City.

City held on for the 3-1 win though which means Aston Villa have now lost their last two Premier League games, conceding seven goals in the process.

After the defeat, Emery could well have had some negatives and positives to take from the game, and one of those negatives will have been the performance of Bailey who failed to provide Villa with the attacking impetus they needed to threaten City’s backline.

The Jamaican international has formed a steady partnership with Watkins in the Villa attack since Emery’s arrival, but while Watkins has kicked on with three goals in his last three games, Bailey has struggled to contribute for goals and assists with just one goal in his last ten games in all competitions.

Such poor form will be a huge worry to Emery and his staff, with his side currently lacking any real potent alternatives to potentially replace Bailey in the short term. However, that may well be a problem no longer and the Spaniard will have mightily encouraged by the performance of Duran who came on with half an hour left.

The Colombian came on and immediately caused the City defence a real fright throughout his cameo, showcasing his tremendous strength, youthful exuberance and ability to run the channels. And he could well have ended the game with an absolute stunner smashing a thunderous strike off the bar in injury time, controlling and swivelling in almost one motion before rattling the woodwork.

Duran’s cameo drew praise from BBC pundit Clinton Morrison, who spoke on his performance for BBC Radio 5 Live [12 February] saying: “Duran looks a handful. He has been a threat. Watkins does well and wins the flick-on and the touch and the strike was outstanding.

“Ederson was beaten. He looks like a really good prospect. At 19 years of age, Villa have got a player there.” 

Emery does indeed have a serious prospect on his hands, and with Bailey struggling to match the heights of his striking partner Watkins, the former Villarreal manager could swiftly turn to the young talents of Duran in the coming weeks if Bailey’s form and contributions don’t improve.