Express & Star

Analysis: Aston Villa are just refusing to give up in Champions League chase

So much for a team running out of steam.

Aston Villa celebrate at Arsenal

Just at the point Villa’s push for a top-four Premier League finish felt most in need of fresh momentum, they delivered probably the most impressive result of Unai Emery’s reign to date.

Arsenal 0 Villa 2 was both a seismic and entirely fair scoreline, one which dented the title hopes of Emery’s former club just as they looked ready to take the initiative.

Instead, it was the Spaniard’s current team who took charge of the moment and the opportunity presented by Tottenham’s 4-0 drubbing at Newcastle 24 hours previously.

Late goals from Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins earned Villa a win which put them firmly back in control of their destiny in the race for a guaranteed Champions League place.

More than anything, it was a result and performance which had you believing in them again. Just maybe, it will have them believing that bit more in themselves too. Even Emery, who has spent the season playing down his team’s top-four credentials in public, was finally forced to concede they are serious contenders.

After Thursday’s Europa Conference League quarter-final second leg in Lille, Villa play home matches against Bournemouth and Chelsea before Spurs next kick a ball in anger, ironically enough against Arsenal in the north London derby on Sunday. The chance to build some serious scoreboard pressure on their only remaining rivals for fourth place is undoubtedly there.