View: Unai Emery must find best solution for Leon Bailey to thrive at Aston Villa
Aston Villa boss Unai Emery must find the perfect tactical solutions for Leon Bailey to thrive at Villa Park as his inconsistencies continue.
The Jamaican international has started eight of the ten Premier League matches Emery has taken charge of since replacing Steven Gerrard in the Villa hot seat in November, scoring just two goals.
Bailey has been given the unfamiliar role of leading the line alongside Ollie Watkins in the Villa attack in a 4-4-2 shape, but while the England forward is thriving, the former Bayer Leverkusen man continues to stutter.
The Villans have lost their last three Premier League games after a superb start under the Spaniard, losing to Leicester City, Manchester City and Arsenal, conceding 11 goals in the process as Emery continues to locate the ideal tactical shape to get the best out of his group.
Bailey was dropped from the starting XI which faced league leaders Arsenal at Villa Park last time out, with Emi Buendia preferred in that supporting role alongside Watkins.
He came on in the second half and instantly showed a glimpse of his attacking quality, latching on to a long pass before dribbling towards goal in a rampaging run hitting the woodwork.
His underlying stats this season makes for some decent reading but does little to prove he deserves a permanent place in Emery’s side, averaging 0.8 key passes, and 1.4 dribbles but gets dispossessed an astonishing 1.9 times per game.
With Emery demanding his side keep the ball in telling areas, Bailey struggles to hold on to it, and that’s why the Spaniard may opt for Coutinho and Buendia more regularly in the coming weeks.
However, those attacking traits have been few and far between since the Spaniard walked through the doors and Emery has challenged the player to regain his confidence, whilst admitting he is working to find the right solutions for him to perform.
Speaking at his press conference [via Birmingham Live, 23 February] ahead of their game with Everton this weekend, he said: “Leon Bailey is working well. We are trying with him to find his best position on the pitch, defensively and offensively.
“He has as well, ambition and determination to try to get his best performances and each match is an opportunity for him.
“On Saturday we are going to try again as a team to get a good performance.”
With the Spaniard short on attacking wide quality in his squad, he desperately needs to find the right tactical solutions for the Jamaican speedster to thrive, as a stronger end product could kickstart the Villans form once again.
In other Aston Villa news, the club want to reunite with a former player for a fee in excess of £40million in the summer.