If the pressure hadn’t been ramped up on Aston Villa manager Dean Smith before Friday night, then the 3-1 defeat to Arsenal would certainly have done that.
Since that famous 1-0 victory over Manchester United, things have gone from bad to worse for the Midlands club, with the Villans now having tasted their third defeat in as many games.
Smith stuck with his recent back three which served him well at Old Trafford, but once again the system seemed to play into the opposition’s hands, with Arsenal completely overwhelming them in midfield in the first half – the Gunners had a whopping 14 shots to the visitors’ zero.
One man who had a real shocker for Villa was summer signing Emiliano Buendia.
The Argentine was linked with a move to Arsenal in the summer transfer window before sealing a move to Villa Park, and while these are still very early days, his performance yesterday left a lot to be desired.
Starting in the number ten role just behind Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings, Buendia struggled to really get into the game, and that was evident by the fact that he had fewer touches (49) and passes (24) than goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez (50 and 30 respectively).
It was no surprise that the Birmingham Mail’s Ashley Preece slammed him as “lightweight” for his performance.
Writing in his post-match player ratings, the journalist gave him a three, adding: “Physically miles off the pace here. There was no bright spark this week as Arsenal simply had his number. Gave balls away too cheaply and was, like most, found wanting. Buendia had an effort to reduce it to 2-1 after the break but Ramsdale saved well at the near post.
“Buendia was replaced by Ramsey with 20 left. The £38million price tag looks all wrong at present with Buendia needing to get up to speed sharpish.”
Smith desperately needed his midfield playmaker to try and run things in the middle of the park, but the Argentine himself and the Villa manager’s tactics let each other down in equal measure.