By Anthony Onifade

4th Apr, 2023 | 10:10pm

Leon Bailey form now major cause for concern for Aston Villa and Unai Emery

Aston Villa extended their impressive unbeaten run in the Premier League under Unai Emery to six games after their 2-1 win over Leicester City at the King Power on Tuesday evening.

Goals from Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore on either side of a Harvey Barnes equaliser saw the Villans maintain their superb revival under Emery meaning they have now won ten of their 17 games since his appointment.

Many of the players have undergone a major upturn in form and performance levels since Emery’s appointment, however, one player will be giving the former Villarreal coach a huge cause for concern ahead of a potential summer rebuild.

And that’s the form of Jamaican international Leon Bailey who has yet to properly find his place in the Villa team.

He’s certainly shown glimpses of his undoubted match-winning ability since his £25m from Bayer Leverkusen in 2021, but they have not been shown regularly to the club and Emery’s liking in recent weeks.

Bailey has started 12 of the 18 Premier League matches Emery has taken charge of since replacing Steven Gerrard in the Villa hot seat in November, scoring just two goals and providing a single assist which came up against Bournemouth [18 March] [WhoScored]

Villa boss Unai Emery has often sided with Emi Buendia as an alternative to the attacker alongside Ollie Watkins – a move that suggests he may not fully trust Bailey to perform up to his exacting standards on a weekly basis.

And with the club desperately on the lookout for attacking targets this summer to boost Emery’s attacking weaponry, his future as a Villa regular is under fresh doubt and that will have been further compounded through his poor performance against Leicester City at the King Power.

The 25-year-old was nowhere to be seen in the attacking sense for Villa before being taken off with five minutes to go. As per SofaScore, the Jamaican failed to complete any of his five crosses, completed one of his three dribbles, lost possession of the ball a whopping 18 times, and gave away two needless fouls in an uninspired showing at the King Power.

Bailey was no help defensively either, a commodity Emery hugely demands from his forwards, registering zero tackles, or interceptions and winning just two of his nine duels.

There is a case to argue that the only reason why he still gets a start in the Villa team is because of the lack of attacking options available to Emery and yet the Spaniard is still managing to pick up results at Villa Park.

The former Bayer Leverkusen man remains a shadow of the consistent form he showed in Germany and while he may be handed more time by the Villans to protect their investment, Emery may already be searching for players who can come in and provide a much better and consistent attacking impetus next season.

In other Aston Villa news, the club’s academy staff have been slammed over a Phil Foden nickname.