Aston Villa face the unenviable task of hosting Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
Steven Gerrard has enjoyed a superb start to life in the Midlands with back-to-back top-flight wins under his belt against Brighton and Crystal Palace.
The ex-Rangers boss could spring a surprise on Pep Guardiola and City and pick up a result with a key selection change for this clash – starting Emiliano Buendia ahead of Leon Bailey.
Villa beat Crystal Palace 2-1 in their last outing, but the Jamaican winger struggled to make a positive impact playing out on the right. Per SofaScore, he lost seven of his nine duels and failed with all of his attempted dribbles whilst only completing 18 passes.
Therefore, it could be time for him to be axed from the team and for Buendia to be given another chance to show what he can do. The creative midfielder has a history of performing well against Manchester City – producing a sublime display in a 3-2 win for Norwich in 2019.
He recorded two assists and a WhoScored rating of 8.9 in the stunning win for the Canaries. Buendia ended the match with five completed dribbles and four tackles to go along with his assists, showing his quality defensively, in transition and in the final third.
Former Norwich boss Daniel Farke once hailed the Argentine international as a ‘joy to work with’ prior to his move to Villa Park. The German said:
“He has been unbelievably important for us during the past season and as long as we have him it is a joy to work with him, to have him in the team and for our supporters.
“You have to love his creativity and skills. Hopefully, he can also shine in the future for us.”
The £75k-per-week gem has struggled to find his best form for Villa but has still managed to average 1.9 tackles and interceptions per game alongside 1.4 key passes. This, along with his previous display against the Citizens, suggests that he could provide added protection for Matty Cash at right-back by dealing with overloads and tracking back to win the ball off the Premier League champions.
Therefore, Gerrard could shock Pep and pick up a positive result against City with the decision to unleash Buendia back in the starting line-up. If he is able to show the kind of form he did for Norwich against the Spaniard’s outfit then it could a joyous night for the Villans.