Steven Gerrard has enjoyed a successful start to his reign as Aston Villa manager. So much so that the 41-year-old has been nominated for Premier League Manager of the Month for November after wins against Brighton and Crystal Palace.
Despite an impressive second-half performance from Villa, the former Rangers boss suffered his first defeat since replacing Dean Smith in the Villa Park dugout as they lost 2-1 to Manchester City on Wednesday evening.
Next up, they host a Leicester City side that has certainly looked under par this season and currently sit three points above their Midlands rivals in tenth.
Brendan Rogers’ men have shown a particularly weak underbelly, conceding 25 goals in 14 Premier League games, a factor that Villa will look to exploit.
Gerrard will need his entire frontline fit and firing if they are to get a result against City, but there’s one man in particular who could prove the difference for the Villans: Emi Buendia.
You only have to go as far back as Wednesday night to see that Brendan Rodgers’ side seriously struggle to deal with crosses in the box. In their 2-2 draw against Southampton, both goals conceded came from crosses not dealt with, a well-worked set-piece and a ball in from the right flank.
This is where Buendia can shine on Sunday. The Argentine hasn’t had the best start to life at Villa Park since his £34.56m move from Norwich City, scoring and assisting just once in the Premier League. However, with fellow wide man Leon Bailey injured, the 24-year-old is almost certain to start.
According to SofaScore, Buendia has created just three big chances in 12 games and only averages 0.3 shots on target a match; this must change.
Granted, prior to Gerrard’s arrival, the entire Villa team looked toothless, losing five consecutive league games before the 41-year-old replaced his fellow countryman, Dean Smith, in the dugout.
The former Rangers boss has instilled an easy on the eye, attacking system in a short space of time, one that will surely benefit the £31.5m-rated man.
Last month, ex-Villa striker Darren Bent admitted that he was “still unconvinced by” after the 24-year-old’s slow start to life in the top-flight after a stellar season with Norwich in the Championship last term.
However, upon his departure from Carrow Road, the winger was labelled by then-Norwich manager Daniel Farke “outstanding”, which certainly was the case at the time.
Buendia was the second tiers best player on route to the Canaries title-winning campaign, scoring 15 goals and registering 17 assists in 39 appearances.
The talent is undoubtedly there, it just needs to be unleashed and a strong showing against the Foxes on Sunday afternoon could prove the trick. Judging by his attacking talents, he could terrify Rodgers and co.