Aston Villa endured an embarrassing opening day of the season at Newcastle, but the Villans have gone from strength to strength since then and now find themselves battling it out at the top of the Premier League table.
Villa are playing one of the most attractive styles of football in the league this season, but under Unai Emery, they are also one of the most tactically sound sides. Their recent win against Man City was the epitome of this, and the result poses the question of whether are they ready to compete for a title.
The Emery Factor
Once one of the major forces in British football, Aston Villa fans have had to deal with more ups and downs than a rollercoaster in recent years. Takeovers, money problems, and a stint in the second tier, Villa’s supporters have seen it all. Now, though, thanks to Unai Emery, things are finally looking up.
Villa are finally back in the upper echelons of the Premier League and as a result, they are also towards the upper end of the market in the football odds for Champions League qualification. This, in no small part, is down to their top-class boss, Unai Emery.
Emery, whose only other Premier League experience came in a mixed spell at Arsenal, seems to have learned from that experience, and brought even more tactical nous than before. The former PSG coach was lured to Villa Park from Spanish side Villarreal in 2022, a club with which he had reached the Champions League semi-finals with.
Having taken over from Steven Gerrard with the club in 16th place, Emery quickly stamped his style on a group of players that were devoid of motivation and hope. What has happened since has been nothing short of miraculous, as Emery’s playing style and unmatched tactical know-how have turned Villa into a team to be reckoned with, and have entertained the fans along the way.
The 1-0 victory over the all-conquering Man City, may have been a shock to some, but Villa fans will tell you it is not a shock to them. Emery’s side were by far the better team against City and were unlucky not to win by even more goals.
It was a victory that showed how far Villa have come, and also how far they could go. Emery has the tactical intelligence to take on the greatest managers in the game and has come in for huge praise from those like City boss, Guardiola, Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta, and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp.
Emery has said that he is just starting on a project at Villa Park, but to date, he and his team seem to be well ahead of time on their journey. Currently residing in the top four, Villa are certainly going to be fighting for a Champions League place this season, although a first Premier League title may still be a few seasons away.
For now, though, Villa fans are happy to fight it out with the big boys at the top. The likes of captain John McGinn, Ollie Watkins, and Douglas Luiz are in the form of their lives, and Emery and his team have the ground shaking at Villa Park.
- Marc Guehi could leave Crystal Palace in the summer
- Georginio Rutter shares what Leeds United need to do v Stoke City
- Micah Richards raves about Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold
- Alan Shearer blown away by Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins
- Graeme Souness: Rangers goalkeeper Jack Butland is top-class