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Aston Villa’s remarkable rise: Are Unai Emery’s men genuine Premier League title contenders?

Aston Villa’s remarkable resurgence in the Premier League has been nothing short of extraordinary since Unai Emery’s appointment over a year ago.

The former Arsenal boss took the reins from Steven Gerrard with the Midlands side struggling in the lower regions of the Premier League table.

However, Emery’s impact was instantly felt at Villa Park and he guided the club to a commendable seventh-place finish last campaign — which secured Europa Conference League football.

Fast forward to the current season, and Aston Villa find themselves in the thick of the title race, sitting third after 16 games and only two points behind current league leaders Liverpool.

That has led pundits and fans alike to beg the question, are Aston Villa to be taken seriously in the title race?

Ahead of their trip to Old Trafford on Boxing Day, which will be incredibly close to call in the Man United vs Aston Villa odds, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why they might need to be taken seriously.

Impressive start to the season

Aston Villa’s current league position is reflective of their stellar performances on the pitch.

With 11 wins, two draws, and three losses in the first 16 games of the 2023-24 season, the team has demonstrated a consistency that is often the hallmark of title-winning sides.

Scoring an impressive 35 goals and conceding 20, their goal difference indicates a team that is not only prolific in attack but also resolute in defence.

A notable aspect of their current form is an impressive five-game unbeaten run, during which they secured victories over formidable opponents like Tottenham Hotspur (2-1), Manchester City (1-0), and Arsenal (1-0).

Such victories against top-tier teams are usually indicative of a side capable of challenging for the highest honours.

Key players making their presence felt

One of the most notable things under Emery is that the key players in the Villa squad have started pulling their weight more and playing for the badge on their chest.

That has undeniably been a huge factor in this resurgence under the Spaniard.

Ollie Watkins has been a revelation, contributing eight goals and six assists in just 16 Premier League games, with his clinical finishing and link-up play being a crucial role in Villa’s attacking prowess.

Midfield maestro John McGinn has notched up four goals and two assists, providing both defensive stability and attacking impetus from the centre of the park.

Douglas Luiz’s five goals and two assists also highlight his ability to contribute both defensively and offensively, adding an extra dimension to Villa’s play.

Winger Leon Bailey has also been a key figure, notching up five goals and four assists in 14 games. His pace and flair on the flanks have caused headaches for opposition defences, making him a vital asset in Villa’s attacking arsenal.

Unai Emery’s impact

We’ve mentioned his impact a lot already thus far, but Emery’s influence cannot be understated in Aston Villa’s incredible transformation and making the side more favourable in the Premier League betting odds.

Emery’s tactical acumen, experience, and ability to get the best out of his players have played a pivotal role in the team’s success.

His management has instilled belief and resilience, evident in Villa’s ability to grind out results against top opponents.

The road ahead

While Aston Villa’s current position is certainly impressive, the road to the Premier League title is a long and arduous one.

The competition is fierce, with traditional powerhouses like Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City setting the standard.

The true test of Aston Villa’s title credentials will come in the second half of the season, where consistency and resilience will be paramount.


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