By Peter Lynch

22nd Aug, 2023 | 12:10pm

Leon Bailey sends Unai Emery timely reminder with classy display in Aston Villa 4-0 win v Everton

Aston Villa bounced back from their Premier League opening day embarrassment against Newcastle United in the best way possible.

Having been hammered 5-1 by the Magpies last Saturday (12 August), Unai Emery’s men handed out their own beating by thrashing Everton 4-0 on Sunday (20 August).

It was two very different displays from the team, with attacker Leon Bailey epitomising that scenario under his manager.

The Jamaican international struggled massively against Newcastle, and was hooked by his manager at half-time for Youri Tielemans.

Perhaps spurred on by that withdrawal, Bailey was the star of the show against the Toffees, assisting John McGinn’s opener before getting on the scoresheet himself.

Emery made the same substitution once again, but this time it was in very different circumstances, with Bailey able to hold his head high in front of the Villa Park faithful, who appreciated his efforts on the pitch.

Along with his goal contributions, the 26-year-old won two of his three duels, was successful in both of his dribble attempts and both of his long passes, and left the field with an 83% passing accuracy [SofaScore].

And his classy display could not have come at a better time, with the winger sending his manager an important nudge that he really can play.

It came immediately after the club’s loan deal for Nicolo Zaniolo, who signed on loan from Galatasaray on Saturday (20 August).

The Italian watched on from the stands as Bailey played a key role in the win against Everton, with the former perhaps inspiring the latter to up his game for fear of losing his place in the starting XI.

Zaniolo is predominantly an attacking midfielder in the central area, but the 24-year-old can also play out wide, as he did in his only appearance for Galatasaray this season in their Champions League qualifier against FK Zalgiris [SofaScore].

Bailey has failed to replicate his Bayer Leverkusen heroics since arriving at Villa Park, but he was handed a major lifeline right before the new season got underway with the injury blow to fellow attacker Emiliano Buendia.

The Jamaican remains above Philippe Coutinho in the pecking order, but it will be interesting to see what happens to him when Zaniolo is factored in, and indeed when Buendia returns from injury.

Perhaps defensive efforts will come into Emery’s thinking, with Bailey not making any clearances, blocked shots, interceptions or tackles against the Toffees, as per SofaScore. The winger also lost possession of the ball seven times, much to the angst of his defensive teammates.

This is one to watch, but this was a timely reminder.

In other Aston Villa news, one “hungry” Villa player produced a masterclass in the 4-0 win against Everton.