By Anthony Onifade

9th May, 2023 | 8:40pm

Ashley Young faces Aston Villa expulsion from Unai Emery as true nature of lacklustre showing emerges

Aston Villa were narrowly edged out by West Midlands rivals Wolves as they fell to a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Molineux on Saturday (6 May) – and that will have had Unai Emery concerned.

The Villans fell behind after just ten minutes when Toti easily wriggled clear of his marker to powerfully head home beyond Emi Martinez from a Ruben Neves corner.

Despite great chances falling for the likes of Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings, the Villans couldn’t quite muster up an equaliser succumbing to their second successive Premier League defeat and hampering their chances of a European place.

After scoring in every one of their Premier League encounters under Emery before last weekend’s defeat to Manchester United, it is also now two games without scoring for Aston Villa as they struggled to open up a stout and resilient Wolves defence.

The visitors dominated possession and went close to equalising in the first half through Emiliano Buendia and Ollie Watkins, before Ashley Young steered a low, curling shot past Jose Sa’s right-hand post early in the second half.

However, it wasn’t to be for the West Midlands outfit seeing their lofty European ambitions take a damaging hit by their local rivals.

A European place will certainly be huge for Emery and his team, providing him with the funds to rebuild and reshape his squad ahead of a full-scale assault under the Spaniard’s watch next season, and in these closing weeks of the campaign, the former Villarreal boss will have run the rule over his squad to see who deserves a spot next season and who doesn’t.

And one player who looks in danger of seeing his role at Villa Park diminish is veteran defender Young, whose form has dropped considerably in the last few games.

Young, 37, rejoined the Villans in 2021 and despite his advancing years, he’s impressed this season and managed to play 24 times across all competitions.

The former Manchester United star has played at both left-back and right-back for the Villans but has seen his role decrease in recent weeks, with the Spaniard preferring Matty Cash.

However, in the Polish international’s absence after injury, the 37-year-old has rolled back the years with some dominant performances since his inclusion in the Aston Villa team.

Against Leicester City on 4 April, the Villa Park was tremendous, earning a 7.2 Sofascore rating, of which only two other starters bettered, he enjoyed 81 touches of the ball, which resulted in two key passes amidst mastering a tremendous 91% pass accuracy, via Sofascore.

Young also excelled in his defensive work too, registering impressive three clearances, two interceptions, one tackle and nine duels won.

However, since then, the veteran defender’s form and influence have taken a huge hit, picking up poor average scores in four out of his last six Premier League games.

Against Wolves on Saturday, Young may not have been the worst player in the Aston Villa camp, but after building such a reliable and steady standard and reputation in Emery’s starting XI since Cash’s injury, he failed to live up to them and his drop in form has certainly coincided with Aston Villa’s drop in results in recent weeks.

The former England international failed to register a single clearance, block, or interception, only recorded one tackle all game and was dribbled past once too [SofaScore] in a rather lacklustre showing against Wolves.

There has been much talk of Young signing a contract extension at Villa Park, a thought which will have certainly been entertained a few weeks ago after some strong performances, but fast forward a month later and Emery could well be considering other plans – ones which include expulsion from his long-term ambitions.

The 37-year-old can certainly be considered part of the Villa Park furniture, but he may be moved out before too long if he doesn’t improve his faltering form in the coming weeks.

In other Aston Villa news, one bargain target can save the club millions for investment elsewhere in the squad and still have a major impact.