Why Aston Villa should be considered as genuine Premier League title contenders

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The Premier League has seen remarkable triumphs like Leicester City’s in 2015/16 and Blackburn Rovers’ surprise win in 1994/95, defying expectations.

While Unai Emery’s Aston Villa winning the 2023/24 Premier League might not reach the shock level of Leicester’s historic victory, it would still be considered among the greatest of all time. While this scenario remains a distant possibility, Villa’s recent 1-0 victory over Manchester City has ignited the fans’ dreams, and even some neutrals.

The Opta supercomputer currently assigns a low probability to Villa’s title success at 1.2% in current simulations. However, it’s acknowledged that these AI-powered projections may be influenced by the team’s historical performance in comparison to more traditional top-four contenders.

Should Aston Villa secure a victory against current league leaders Arsenal on Saturday, they will be within a point of Unai Emery’s former side. Additionally, they could be just a point away from the top of the table if Liverpool fails to defeat Crystal Palace in the day’s earlier match.

Unai Emery’s genius tactical plan

Emery’s tactical prowess was evident as his Villa side outthought and outfought Manchester City on Wednesday evening.

Villa achieved an unprecedented feat by winning possession from a Pep Guardiola-led Man City side in the Premier League on 13 occasions – a testament to Emery’s strategic approach to stifle the renowned team in possession.

Throughout Emery’s tenure, Villa has consistently timed their final-third press effectively and since Emery’s first game in charge, only three teams have had a higher percentage of high turnovers leading to shots at goal than Villa (17.5%).

Notably, Villa doesn’t turn over the ball in the final third as frequently (7.3 per game) compared to other top clubs like Arsenal (10.3), Liverpool (9.7), Manchester United (9.5), Chelsea (9.3), and Manchester City (9.1).

Under Unai Emery’s management, Aston Villa’s defensive high-line strategy has resulted in catching opposition players offside 173 times, a staggering 78 more occasions than any other team.

While this approach has faced criticism at times, such as in the 5-1 defeat to Newcastle on the opening day, opponents have often struggled to find a way to consistently breach Villa’s offside trap.

Is history repeating itself?

Aston Villa’s current points tally of 32 is not only their best at this stage of a Premier League season but is also the same number Leicester City had at this point during their fairytale 2015/16 title win.

Emery’s managerial record at Villa shows an average of 2.02 points per game across his 40-match tenure. Remarkably, he joins a select group of 10 managers who have taken charge of at least 35 games and won at least two points per game at a club. Notably, all nine of the previous managers in this category have gone on to win the Premier League title with their respective teams.


Some pundits are refusing to give Villa a chance to win the Premier League, but I think that’s slightly disrespectful, as the same names were barking on about Tottenham Hotspur’s title credentials.

In addition, people are still prepared to talk about Manchester City winning the league but not Aston Villa, yet Emery’s side are two points ahead of them at this moment in time.

It’s football snobbery. But, if they keep it up, pundits will have no choice but to include Villa in the title picture.

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