If there is one thing that characterizes the Premier League, it is its great competitiveness. Although there is an economic gap between some teams, then on the field the millions don’t play alone, just tell it to Chelsea. Every season there are some big surprises, but undoubtedly, one of the biggest this season is Unai Emery’s Aston Villa.
The Basque coach took over the team in November, when they were in 17th place, and now they are in sixth place with 51 points. Since Emery’s arrival to the Birmingham’s bench, they have taken 38 points out of a possible 54, only beaten by Manchester City and Arsenal, who are this year’s league title contenders. In other words, if the league had started when Emery arrived, Aston Villa would be in third place.
Right now, the villains are the most in-form team next to Manchester City. They accumulate five consecutive victories and a total of eight matches without losing, conceding only two goals in those matches.
The Birmingham team is in that 5th place with an eye on the horizon of what is their new goal. What started out as avoiding relegation to the Championship has turned into trying to qualify for Europe. Currently, they are three points behind Tottenham in the Europa League and five points behind Newcastle in fourth place in the Champions League (although they have a game in hand on Aston Villa).
One of the keys of this Aston Villa is the change of system, as it was demonstrated with Gerrard that something was not working in the team. Since the arrival of the Spanish coach, the team has changed its formation to the one that has given so much success to Emery at Villarreal, such as 4-2-2-2-2 or 4-2-3-1.
Ollie Watkins, the trendy striker in Villa Park:
If we talk about the great level of Aston Villa in this Premier League, we can’t forget its great lifesaver, Ollie Watkins. The 27-year-old English striker is in an excellent form, making the best season of his career in the first division.
The Villa striker has undoubtedly been the most improved player since the Basque manager signed for the club. Watkins has 14 goals this season, 11 of which have come in the last 12 games.
All this can be reflected in the team’s scoring quota, as since Unai’s arrival, the team has been able to score in every game. That is to say, it has never failed to score. On the other hand, before Emery, the team had a wet gunpowder and had gone scoreless in six matches.
To all this must be added the departure of Danny Ings to West Ham in the winter transfer market, who was an important player in the team and had seven goals until then.
Improved performance of many players:
Undoubtedly, the great performance of the villains is due to an improvement in all lines. In goal, Emi Martinez has returned to a high level after the World Cup, as he had a first stretch of the season conceding a lot of goals. The Argentinian has already joined the race for the golden glove, with 11 clean sheets so far in the league.
Another important point is the defense. Konsa and Mings have established themselves as the starting pair in the back line after Diego Carlos’ injury at the beginning of the season. Despite not being great central defenders, both are performing at a high level, especially in the last part of the season.
The arrival of Alex Moreno to the team has also been very relevant. Although he had already performed at a very good level at Betis previously, at Aston Villa he has exceeded expectations. Recall that the Spanish cost just over 13 million euros. The sideback has already in these three months three assists.
In midfield, Douglas Luiz is a permanent fixture for Emery and then the coach has often chosen to accompany him with Kamara. With this new formation, undoubtedly, the most benefited players have been Buendia and Mcginn. This is because they are now more free in defense and can join the attack much more.
In addition to the starters, Emery has different options on the bench, such as Lucas Digne, Leon Bailey, Philippe Coutinho or Bertrand Traoré.
Emery, upon his arrival in Birmingham, stated that his dream was to win a trophy with Aston Villa and play in Europe. The first still seems to be quite far away, but the second seems more and more real. So we will continue to keep a close eye on this team, which has great things in store for the future with Emery at the helm.
Main image: @AVFCOfficial.