Unai Emery has now taken charge of as many Premier League games at Aston Villa as his predecessor Steven Gerrard – and the stark difference in results really underlines the club’s remarkable transformation.
Gerrard was sacked last October after 11 months at Villa Park. He took charge of 38 Premier League games – exactly a season’s worth – and in that time, Villa accumulated just 44 points. Given that, it was no great surprise that he lost his job, given the investment and ambition.
There was the odd glimmer of hope that the Liverpool legend could enjoy success at Villa Park, particularly as marquee signing Philippe Coutinho enjoyed a bright start, but he struggled to guide the team to a sustained run of form. And Villa were particularly poor in the first few months of the 2022-23 campaign, sitting just above the relegation zone when the decision was made to replace Gerrard.
“The board has come to this decision following a full evaluation of results and performances over the calendar year,” said Christian Purslow in a club statement at the time.
“We were clear when we appointed Steven that we set an objective of continuous improvement but that has not been achieved despite everybody’s best efforts and we believe the time is right to make these changes now.”
Fast forward just over a year and Gerrard’s successor has led Villa into the top four for the first time since 2009. They’re just two points off the top of the table after making an exceptional start to the 2023-24 campaign.
The former Arsenal coach did not take long to make an impact. Their form swiftly turned around, and from there Emery guided the club to qualification for the Europa Conference League with an exceptional seventh-place finish.
Having now taken a full season’s worth of games, we now have a large enough sample size to see that Emery’s Villa are no flash in the pan. Having picked up 77 points over that time, they’ve comfortably been good enough to qualify for the Champions League. Their challenge now is to maintain those lofty standards for the remainder of the season.
Here’s how Emery’s record after 38 games compares to Gerrard’s:
Goals Scored: 71
Goals Conceded: 44
Clean Sheets: 11
Goals Scored: 45
Goals Conceded: 50
Clean Sheets: 10