By Callum O'Connell

10th Nov, 2023 | 1:40pm

Leon Bailey must have sealed Aston Villa place after display v AZ Alkmaar

Leon Bailey must have earned himself a starting spot in Unai Emery’s team after the show he put on in the Europa Conference League victory for Aston Villa against AZ Alkmaar on 9 November.

The Jamaican international recorded the assist for the equalising goal and had an all-round impressive display which will surely have convinced his manager he is deserving of a Premier League start.

With that assist, Bailey has now recorded 11 goal contributions so far this season, and that places him second in the Villa squad, just four behind Ollie Watkins’ tally of 15.

Former Eurosport journalist Dean Jones claimed the Jamaican is “playing the best football of his time at the club”, with the competition for places driving him to hit higher levels [GIVEMESPORT, 5 November]. This display was a show that, once again, he has stepped up his levels.

As usual, Bailey caused plenty of issues for the AZ defence with his relentless attacking drive, attempting three dribbles, 11 crosses and having two shots blocked as he looked to constantly test the defensive line. [Sofascore]

It was not just his attacking ability that will have impressed his manager though, as he showed his immense work rate out of possession, outlined by the three tackles he made in the game, as well as winning five duels and even committing three fouls in his desire to track back.

Nicolo Zaniolo has often been the starting option for Emery for the Premier League games, with Bailey having started just twice this season as he averages 35 minutes per game, but if he can continue to perform like he did against AZ then he will surely become the first-choice in his position.

In other Aston Villa news, a broadcaster has reacted to Emery’s “statement of intent” at Villa Park.