It seems crazy now to think that when Unai Emery was appointed as Aston Villa manager in October, the club found themselves in a relegation battle.
Steven Gerrard was dismissed after a poor start to the 2022-23 campaign. But Emery made an instant impact and led Villa to midtable safety prior to the mid-season World Cup break.
Since then Villa have just kept kicking on and now find themselves as the Premier League’s form team. Their performance in their 3-0 victory over Champions League-chasing Newcastle United was arguably their best yet and if they can maintain this momentum they’ll surely qualify for European competition.
“Yeah I think we are on a great run at the moment we are playing good football,” Ollie Watkins, who scored twice, told BT Sport after their latest victory.
“Newcastle are a great side so it shows the levels we are at. Once we get that first goal, it’s a hard place to come [Villa Park]. We are enjoying it at the moment.
“[We are] trusting team-mates in tight areas and if we make mistakes we go again. Real togetherness in the team and looking forward to games to come.
“We are on a great run at the moment and taking each game as it comes. It’s a hard place to come and we are trying to win every game.”
Here are 10 statistics that underline what a superb job Emery has done at Villa Park:
– Newcastle came to Villa Park on the back of five successive league wins and were well beaten by the hosts. The 3-0 scoreline was indicative of the balance of play; 1.99xG to Newcastle’s 0.61, 15 attempts to eight, six on target to two.
– Aston Villa have taken 32 points from 15 matches in 2023 so far. No side has taken more points this calendar year.
– Since Emery was appointed Villa boss at the start of November, only Arsenal have taken more points. Villa average 2.11 points per game over Emery’s reign – extrapolated over the course of a full season, that would be enough for 80 points, which is almost a guarantee of a top-four finish.
Yet another goal for Ollie Watkins! 🤩
Statement performance from the Aston Villa talisman and a smile from the onlooking Gareth Southgate 👀🦁 pic.twitter.com/yiRgZdQ82j
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 15, 2023
– In February, Ollie Watkins became the first player to score in five successive Premier League games for Aston Villa. He’s scored or assisted in 11 of his last 12 appearances (11 goals, two assists) in 2023.
– No player, not even Erling Haaland (nine goals), has scored more Premier League goals so far this calendar year. In 2023, only Napoli’s Victor Osimhen has scored more goals (12) in Europe’s big five leagues than Watkins.
– Villa’s No.11 is in fine form all-round but he’s been particularly good on the road. He recently became the first player since Sergio Aguero in 2017 to score in six successive Premier League away games and extended that run to seven games with his goal at Leicester last week. Watkins has either scored or assisted in each of his last eight away appearances – a run that stretches back to early November and includes trips to Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.
50 – Ollie Watkins (37 goals 13 assists) is the 10th player to reach 50 Premier League goal involvements for Aston Villa and is the second fastest to reach this milestone for the club (102 games) after Christian Benteke in May 2015 (88 games). Spearhead. pic.twitter.com/tOFGdC9M1n
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 15, 2023
– Since the start of the 2021-22 season, only Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli are the only players aged 21 or under to have scored more goals than Jacob Ramsey (10 goals) – via @OptaJoe.
– Ramsey registered four key passes against Newcastle while scoring and assisting. He also registered two dribbles and two tackles.
– Villa have now won five matches in a row and are unbeaten in their last eight matches, having taken 22 of the last 24 points available. Only league leaders Arsenal have taken as many points over the same period.
– Unai Emery’s men have kept four clean sheets and conceded just one goal over their last five matches, while they’ve kept six clean sheets and conceded just two in their last eight. They’ve also scored at least two goals in each of their last five outings.