Aston Villa’s acquisition of Emi Buendia last summer was seen as a statement of intent from the Birmingham club, a sign that they aspired to move higher up the Premier League table. After all, the Argentine had just made a mockery of the Championship the season before. However, the playmaker has failed to make much of an impact at Villa Park, and he perfectly highlights the gulf in class between the two divisions, which is getting larger every year.
Championship Promotion Fight Contested by “Yo-Yo Teams”
Villa signed Buendia from Norwich City for £38 million, and the Canaries had to let their star man go because he’d had his head turned. It was a major blow for Daniel Farke, as he could have given his side a much better chance of staying in the Premier League for another season had he stayed. Norwich are the perfect example of a yo-yo team, a side that regularly gets promoted to the top flight but quickly slips back down into the second division again due to the gulf in class.
A quick look at the Championship table shows how other teams that recently played in the top flight are superior in the league below. Bournemouth and Fulham are both expected to get promoted at the end of the 2021-22 campaign, with the former being the favourites at 7/5 in the current Championship betting odds. Fulham can be backed at 8/5, while another recent Premier League side, West Bromwich Albion, are at odds of 9/2. These teams are doing well in the second tier, but are they destined to fail again if they manage to return to the fiercely competitive top flight?
Buendia Was Expected to Set Top Flight Alight – He Hasn’t
There have been numerous players who have looked like superstars in the Championship, only to move up a tier and find the standard to be too high. Aleksandar Mitrović is a prime example of a player who makes the Championship look too easy but has struggled to find form in the Premier League. In the Serbian’s first 15 Championship games this season, he’d already banged in a whopping 18 goals. But in 13 starts in the top flight last time out, he managed three.
Buendia was expected to be a major figure in the Premier League this term, and many thought that he would be able to fill the massive boots vacated by Jack Grealish after his £100 million move to Manchester City. In last season’s Championship, the 24-year-old put away 15 goals and registered 16 assists. He hasn’t been able to bring those exploits to the next level for Villa yet, and he also failed to do so in the 2019-20 Premier League campaign for Norwich.
Despite obviously being too good for the Championship, Buendia has faltered in the Premier league and has underlined the vast difference in quality between the two divisions. It seems that this gap is widening each year, and it is resulting in a lot of the same teams going up and down between the two leagues frequently. This could be a problem that the FA needs to address, as there is a risk of the richer clubs pulling further away and reducing the overall level of competition.