The Case for Aston Villa as a Top-Four Contender for Unai Emery

Unai Emery had his list ready. “There are seven contenders to be in the top four,” he declared. “Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle and Chelsea.” His Aston Villa side were not on the list. “We are not a contender,” Emery declared with a smile.

An intriguing statement considering Villa are currently in fourth place. They sit just two points behind leaders Arsenal, one point behind champions City, level with challengers Liverpool, and ahead of the other four sides on Emery’s list. Villa had just beaten Tottenham, coming from behind to hand them their third straight defeat and move ahead of Ange Postecoglou’s side. After 13 games and nine wins, they sit four points clear of sixth-placed Manchester United and five ahead of seventh-placed Newcastle. They are even ahead of Chelsea, who are currently in 10th place.

Emery, however, was focused on staying consistent. “Of course we can get confidence when we are winning matches like here at Tottenham,” he said. “But still in my mind, it is 38 matches that we have to be consistent.”

Perhaps Emery wasn’t aware that Sunday’s 2-1 win in north London was the 38th time he had taken charge of Villa in the Premier League, the equivalent of a full season. Emery’s record stands at 24 wins, five draws, and nine defeats, culminating in 77 points. Only Manchester City and Arsenal have taken more since the Spaniard was appointed last October and it is enough to put Villa third.

Villa have been improving their home and away performance. They’ve had 13 home wins in a row in the Premier League, their longest run since 1983. While their away trips have seen nine wins from 19 games, it has been off-set by their outstanding home form.

Villa’s squad also currently looks to be stronger than some of those who have been more vocal in declaring their top-four ambitions. This comes at a time when there isn’t much expectation. When Emery was appointed 13 months ago, the club was only outside of the relegation zone on goal difference. Now, there is a case to be made that Villa have been the third-best team in the country since Emery’s arrival.ando Herrera’s late goal, earning parity before another former Tottenham player, Christian Eriksen made it 3-2 late on. Even without a goal, Paratici says Harry Kane will still be happy with his performance, lauded as a potential player of the year candidate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *