Canaries debate: Is it time to bring Emi Buendia back into the Norwich City starting XI?
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Emi Buendia’s start to life in the Premier League hasn’t been as vibrant as many Norwich City supporters expected after his performances in the Championship last season.
The Argentine shined throughout City's title-winning campaign and many supporters tipped him for big things on the Premier League stage.
Suddenly, Buendia finds himself occupying the bench after a series of mistakes that led to opposition goals - including in a crunch clash against Watford in November. His naivety in certain situations saw boss Daniel Farke accusing him of committing 'nursery mistakes'.
Buendia was punished for another gaffe in the home rout to Aston Villa prior to that Watford fixture and now the player who it seemed City couldn't operate without, can't find a place in Farke's side.
Statistically, Buendia has been one of the most creative midfielders in the division, let alone the City set-up, but what price does that creativity cost?
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In terms of numbers, Buendia is way out in front in terms of assists, key passes and deep ball progressions comparatively to his City teammates and with Farke's desired style of play demanding a high-level of bravery, City's creative midfielder should form part of the plan.
He's completed the third most dribbles in the division, has the most assists for City and has created the fifth most chances in the Premier League.
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On the flip side, those statistics require context, where are those dribbles being completed on the pitch, how influential is he to City's attacking phases of play and how frequently does he squander possession?
A pass success rate of 81%, which considering the difficulty of passes he attempts to execute, makes for curious reading. His through ball stats read positively also, with 0.3 through balls per game ranking higher than any other City operator this season.
Yet, with the emergence of Todd Cantwell and City's need to shift to a more regimented approach following successive defeats, Buendia has found himself out of the starting XI.
Given the context of last season and the magical moments he produced, it seems unthinkable what has transpired given the confidence most supporters possessed surrounding his talents.
That's the nature of the Premier League. Sometimes those expected to flourish underperform and those written off emerge from the shadows.
Within his game are some flaws, but City's tactical approach may be increasing the level of frustration he is experiencing.
Comments surrounding his body language remain, with some supporters declaring his noticeable frustration upon losing possession as unhealthy for the team.
Last year displayed that, in the right areas of the pitch for a team who dominate possession, Buendia can be the deciding factor in games. Starved of possession and given the ball in high-risk areas, he can be an unreliable operator.
For Farke and City, it's about ensuring we get to see the right side of Buendia's game, the one that lifts supporters off their seats.
- If you were City boss, would you reinstate Buendia?