Aston Villa manager Unai Emery was pleased with elements of winger Leon Bailey’s display against West Ham United, despite heaps of criticism from supporters of the Jamaican’s performance. Deemed to have had a 3/10 game in our player ratings at BirminghamWorld, we agreed with fans as we thought Bailey struggled.
Handing out a three may seem a little harsh but with a penalty given away and many a misplaced pass in advanced positions, it was hard to give anything better. Yes, the penalty was a soft one and Emery thought so too, but Bailey still shouldn’t have shoved Lucas Paqueta. No matter how light the push was, we think it was still a sloppy foul to give away.
Villa’s head coach disagreed somewhat in the post-match press conference, however, as he saw some positives. “Bailey, he is playing in his best position on the pitch and we have spoken a lot with him, trying to improve and use his characteristics,” Emery said. “Sometimes one-v-one, sometimes playing wide and sometimes more between the 7 and 9. He can have better moments but I am very happy.
“For example today, I told him before the match that sometimes to play a brilliant match is not offensively, it’s sometimes defensively we will need to do it. Before today, we played five away matches and won four – today we drew. I think that is a very good performance and basically that is because defensively we are playing very committed,” Emery continued.
With four goals and two assists in 25 Premier League appearances this campaign, there has been some improvement from Bailey but he quite often struggles with inconsistency. One week he will curl in an excellent effort from range, whereas another his decision-making in the final third will be well off the pace.
One player who could perhaps challenge Bailey to a spot in the starting XI is Jhon Duran, who joined The Villans during the January transfer window. Signing for around £14 million, the Colombian may not be a winger like Bailey, but he could perhaps take the spot as a second striker alongside Ollie Watkins – where Bailey sometimes sits.
Emery believes Duran could have more of an involvement going forwards. “I think we have to push to help with Jhon Duran to impact. He had two small chances and I think, of course, I have to use my players in 90 minutes, trying to give everyone the possibilities as well to help us.”