By Callum O'Connell

10th Aug, 2023 | 9:40pm

Others must step up in Emi Buendia absence after Aston Villa injury blow

Emi Buendia’s knee ligament injury so close to the start of the season represents a huge blow for Aston Villa.

The BBC has reported that the injury will keep him out of action for eight months, and his work rate is something that will be sorely missed at Villa with his teammates not quite at his same level.

News of Buendia’s injury broke via Aston Villa’s official website on 10 August, and the likely replacements to fill Buendia’s void include Leon Bailey, Phillipe Coutinho, and youngster Jaden Philogene, with all three capable of filling the inverted wide role in the Argentine’s absence.

Buendia ranks in the 86th percentile for tackles, averaging 1.98 per game from his advanced midfield position, while he is also in the 81st percentile for interceptions with 0.76 per game [FBref], displaying his eagerness to track back and help out his team, which has been a major factor in Villa’s defensive stability under Unai Emery.

Bailey meanwhile is less defensively capable, ranking in just the seventh percentile for tackles where he makes 0.62 per game, while he is in the 20th percentile for interceptions with just 0.29 per game [FBref].

Coutinho ranks higher than Buendia in terms of tackling, making 2.42 tackles per game, which sees him rank in the 99th percentile but can’t match the interceptions with just 0.38 per game, putting him in the 36th percentile [FBref].

Philogene, meanwhile, seems to provide statistically the best option to replace Buendia. His 2.55 tackles per game and 0.73 interceptions see him in the 98th and 81st percentiles respectively [FBref], although his stats are from a season spent in the Championship with Cardiff City.

Philogene could definitely be an option to capitalise on Buendia’s absence, as he looks to make his claim on a starting place for Villa, after seizing his pre-season opportunity with both hands [The Athletic, 31 July].

But there can be no doubt that losing a player with the quality Buendia has at this juncture is gutting news for the player, Emery, and supporters alike.

In other Aston Villa news, an update has emerged in the chase for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.