Aston Villa: Unai Emery may be tempted to offer Leon Bailey redemption opportunity v Tottenham Hotspur
Aston Villa will be looking to get their faint European hopes back on track when they take on Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park on Saturday [13 May].
The Villans will approach Saturday’s contest knowing that a win will take them level on points with their opponents and kickstart their attempts to secure a European spot for next season.
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) – their second defeat in a row, denting their impressive renaissance under Unai Emery’s management.
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 which will have left the former Villarreal boss greatly concerned given they couldn’t stop scoring before their two last results.
In fact, their attacking stats against Wolves didn’t quite make for pleasing reading for Emery, only managing 3 shots on target from 16 total shots, despite enjoying all of the possession and territory against their Midlands rivals.
It was a similar story against Manchester United too, where Aston Villa only mustered one shot on target from seven total shots at Old Trafford [WhoScored].
Emery has been forced to alter his tactics as a result of a lack of attacking options, with Jacob Ramsey and John McGinn taking up unfamiliar roles on the flanks in the absence of both Leon Bailey and Philippe Coutinho facing a period on the injury treatment table.
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 that will certainly start against a rival for a European spot in Tottenham.
Given his side’s struggles to impose themselves in the attacking sense in the last two games, Emery may be forced to make changes for the game and that includes handing Jamaican international Bailey a shot at redemption and a chance to prove why Emery should keep the faith with him for next season.
Bailey has started 12 of the 22 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].
The former Bayer Leverkusen man has flattered to deceive on too many occasions so far this season. However, his attacking stats show he is a player the Villans can rely on, especially within a period where they are struggling to not only create them but score too.
Bailey ranks the third-best in the squad for key passes per game this season (0.9), third-best for dribbles per game (1.1) and the second-best for shots per game(1.6) [WhoScored], certainly giving Emery a case to start him against Spurs on Saturday.
The 25-year-old certainly may not be pulling up any trees on a regular basis in an Aston Villa shirt this season, but with plenty still to play for in terms of their European aspirations and their recent struggles to find any real attacking spark, Bailey may well just prove their best hope of claiming an unprecedented spot amongst the elite on the continent.
Maybe then, the stop-start Aston Villa forward can locate his truth worth.
In other Aston Villa news, Emery wants to reunite with this PL star to solve Villa’s creativity issues.