Is it time to talk about Aston Villa?

The Premier League, this season at least, has become stratified in a way it has never been before. Looks like there are only two categories. You are either fighting against relegation or you are in the race for the Champions League. It’s a bit more finicky than under the hood, though not by much. On top of that, you have your Big 7 clubs, and then other clubs that are run so well and so efficiently that they have been overtaken by other clubs that are either stagnant or have no plans ( or both, in the case of Chelsea). But those teams that have been passed more well oil Machines, teams like Everton or Leicester or West Ham, find themselves so shredded that they are fighting the fall. Mid-table these days is basically just Liverpool and Chelsea.

Aston Villa have threatened to become a well-run club for some time, although the term “punching above their weight” may not fit the bill. They were a traditional power a few decades ago, and are still one of only five English clubs to have won the European Cup (the precursor to the Champions League). They play in the country’s second largest city in a stadium that has a higher capacity than Chelsea or Everton (though not by as much). Villa should play among the big boys.

But of course, like a lot of clubs with big dreams but small minds, they couldn’t go unfucked for a while. longtime chairman Doug Ellis appears to be Would rather set his balls on fire than spend the money. They sold out to Randy Lerner in 2006 and… well, look at the Browns. a pair of Ownership subsequently changed hands and Villa eventually landed under the guidance of Bucks owner Wes. Edens and Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris. This has continued ever since, with Villa finally surviving the championship and avoiding relegation.

Villa is a forward thinking club, with a youth academy and scouting system that has produced enough players to achieve more than their own. They faltered (sigh) when appointing Steven Gerrard as manager last season, as Gerrard seemed mismatched, neither knowing what his best system was nor How to develop players beyond what they were.

But Villa seem to have hit the jackpot with the appointment of Unai Emery to replace Gerrard. Since Emery took over, the Villains have scored the third most points in the league, and are currently on a six-game unbeaten streak that has taken them to seven9th, above Liverpool and Chelsea, and six points behind Spurs for a Europa League place.

Emery’s reputation in England was somewhat tarnished after his spell at Arsenal. Ars’ placeIWenger, who took the Gunners to heights they had never dreamed of before, both in achievement and style, was always a tall task. The main criticism of Emery was that he was too reactive, never giving Arsenal a defined way of playing or setting up And whatever the opponent was doing, he always countered.

different horses for courses

But this is still a manager who turned Sevilla and Villarreal into serious forces in both the Champions League and Europa League, the latter winning four times between the two clubs and another final with Arsenal. His time at PSG can’t really be held against him as no one has been able to solve that Rubik’s Covered in thick mud.

At Villa, Emery has a settled scheme that looks very similar to the one he was using at Villarreal, a system that drove Liverpool crazy in last year’s Champions League semi-final. It is a 4-2-2-2, with the “wide” midfielders constantly tucking behind the opposing team’s midfield line to provide an option for the defenders and deep midfielders for a pass that breaks the pressing line. allows narcissism and solidarity Villa will play pretty quick on the break, as they learned a lot about last week’s loss to Chelsea:

It also allows Emery to play three or four central midfielders, who pays defensively closed. Sometimes you’ll see Villa have five at the end when they’re under heavy pressure, because anyone in midfield can come in help.

Emery’s main bonus so far in his time at Villa Park is that he, with clear instructions and tasks, has enabled the players to play at a level that was not under Gerrard. Ollie Watkins Up Top Can’t Miss Right Now — Together Five goals and one assist in his last seven games. Clearly soaking up the simple tasks of sneaking in or pulling out behind defenders, both at speed. John McGinn has been completely revitalized under Emery, playing either as one of two holding midfielders or as a slightly more advanced tucked-in attacking midfielder. He was the best player on the field against Chelsea. Tyrone Mings has rediscovered the form in defense that he found not too long ago in the England team. Douglas Luiz has been the anchor as the holding midfielder. He has been a force to be reckoned with for McGuinn.

warnings are Of course, there always are. The schedule has been kind to Villa of late. In this six-game streak, five of them came against a team in a relegation battle, although that’s a huge list these days. The second was against a completely defeated and confused Chelsea, who fired their manager just after losing to Villa. But hey, you can only go so far as to rip the limbs off teams playing worse than yours, and that’s all you can ask.

Second, Villa are playing in over their heads in a way that is probably not sustainable. Under Emery, he has scored 25 goals on only 20.8 expected goals, and conceded only 19 of 24.8 expected goals. Amy Martinez is certainly a great defender and has done so in short spells with Villa and Arsenal. But is it good? Also helps when you get to play against Chelsea’s finishing. Watkins may have been one of the most dead-eyed strikers in the league, but it looks like the market is about to improve.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t an exciting time. Villa have, or should have, the money to spend, and after only net spending this season of around $50 million, there should be more for Emery to shape the team as he sees fit.

Villa has always been regarded as a sleeping giant next to Everton and West Ham or Newcastle. One of those teams finally woke up (with some blood money help). It seems that someone else has also opened his eyes.

To see if Sam stays calm enough to accurately watch the Premier League, if he ever has, follow him on Twitter @felsgate.