Aston Villa face relegation-threatened Leicester City this evening as they continue their surprise march toward the European places under Spanish boss Unai Emery.
After a brilliant 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, Villa sit ninth in the Premier League, just two points behind Brentford in seventh.
However, after a lackluster display in West London, Emery must axe Emiliano Buendia from his starting XI for the trip to the King Power Stadium to maximise the creative, attacking potential within his squad.
Will Buendia be benched against Leicester?
Emi Buendia partnered in-form Ollie Watkins up front at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, as Villa lined up again in a 4-4-2 formation.
Despite another accomplished performance from the Villans, the Argentine struggled to impact the game, completing just 17 passes, one progressive pass and only attempting one shot, as per FBref.
Buendia’s lack of influence on the game was largely due to Chelsea’s dominance in possession, but it is worth noting that he has struggled to hit the heights expected of him since his club record, big-money £33m move from Norwich City in the summer of 2021.
CIES Football Observatory now only rate his worth at €20m (17m), a remarkable decrease in value since he moved to the Midlands outfit.
Former Villa legend Gabby Agbonlahor labelled Buendia’s performance against Brentford last season as “quiet” and claimed that he “goes missing” in matches when speaking to Football Insider.
An alternative for the misfiring Mar del Plarta-born star is Jamaican speedster Leon Bailey who would offer more in stretching the struggling Foxes defence, and his pace is likely to create more space for the on-fire Watkins.
Against a side for whom tonight’s match represents a must-win, Bailey is likely to exploit any room behind the centre-backs better than Buendia would be able to.
Of course, dropping Buendia would be a bold move by Emery, given the midfielder’s undoubted talent on his day, but with Villa facing a Leicester side desperate for points in their battle against relegation, the Spanish boss may opt for a more direct, pacey attacking approach.