Express & Star

Matt Maher analysis: Commitment to the cause pays off for Unai Emery’s Aston Villa

Villa have now won 22 league matches since the start of the year, the first time they have reached that mark in the top flight since 1980.

Pick that out! Ollie Watkins fires in the winner as Villa moved into the Champions League places -Pic: Dave Birt

Nobody needs reminding what happened in 1981.

Despite climbing into the top four and sitting just two points off the summit of the Premier League, with the season more than a third of the way done, it still feels a little premature to suggest Villa’s 2023 are title contenders.

Their head coach doesn’t even think they are favourites to finish in the top seven.

In the spirit of Unai Emery’s caution, therefore, let us just say this: With matches against Manchester City and Arsenal on the horizon, Villa are firmly in the race to be top of the league at Christmas.

Yesterday’s 2-1 win at Tottenham was the latest afternoon to get supporters really believing. By several measures, it was Villa’s best result of a season already not short on excellent ones.