It might seem illogical, but winning league titles against the odds is increasingly rare. While we often see unexpected victors in cup competitions, maintaining championship-winning form across 34 or more games is a daunting task for teams not ranked among the top contenders.
Remembering Historic League Wins by Underdogs
The 2015-16 Premier League season saw a remarkable triumph with Leicester City’s unexpected victory. Similarly, Blackburn Rovers were not the top pick for the 1994-95 Premier League title, yet they clinched it on the last day, surpassing the then-dominant Manchester United.
In Europe’s other top leagues, we’ve witnessed surprises like Montpellier’s Ligue 1 win in 2012, Deportivo La Coruña’s La Liga title in 2000, and Kaiserslautern’s Bundesliga success in 1997-98.
Aston Villa’s Dream in the 2024-24 Premier League
While not as surprising as Leicester City’s 2016 win, a potential league victory for Unai Emery’s Aston Villa in the 2024-24 season would still be among the most extraordinary achievements. Their recent 1-0 win over Manchester City has sparked hopes among fans, even though it’s far from a guaranteed success story.
Statistical Outlook on Aston Villa’s Chances
Currently, the Opta supercomputer gives Aston Villa only a 2.2% chance of winning the title, reflecting their past performance in the league compared to their more consistently high-ranking competitors. However, despite these AI-generated odds, the unpredictability of football means that fan optimism remains high. Either way, if you believe in Villa you can try your luck at https://22bet.com/mobile.
Aston Villa’s Ascent under Emery
If Aston Villa triumphs over the league leaders Arsenal on Saturday, they’ll be just a point behind Emery’s previous team. This victory could place them near the league’s summit, especially if Liverpool doesn’t win against Crystal Palace. Being so close to the top, especially after recent victories over last season’s leading teams, positions Villa as a strong contender for the title this season.
Emery’s Impactful Leadership
Emery’s tenure at Villa, starting in November, marked a significant managerial shift. His impressive record includes leading Villarreal to an unexpected UEFA Champions League semi-final and securing a UEFA Europa League title with a win against Manchester United in May 2021. This wealth of experience and success represented a major step up from former manager Steven Gerrard, not just in experience but also in tactical acumen.
Villa’s Remarkable Performance
Since Emery’s first game on November 6, 2022, where Villa defeated Manchester United, the team has gathered an impressive 81 points from 40 matches. This achievement places them fourth in the Premier League over this period, trailing just behind Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool. Aston Villa’s point tally even surpasses Manchester United’s, highlighting their remarkable journey under Emery’s guidance.
Emery’s Journey from Arsenal to Aston Villa
Unai Emery’s initial phase at Arsenal was a mixed bag. In his first 40 Premier League games since taking charge at the brink of the 2018-19 season, he led the team to secure 76 points. This performance lagged significantly behind the leading duo of Liverpool (103 points) and Manchester City (102 points).
The season started positively but dwindled towards the end, culminating in a fifth-place finish – a substantial 28 points behind champions Manchester City. The Europa League posed a significant challenge that year, with Arsenal’s focus on the tournament impacting their league performance. Their journey to the final in Baku ended in disappointment, marked by a crushing 4-1 defeat to Chelsea.
Departure from Arsenal
Emery’s tenure at Arsenal didn’t see a turnaround, with ineffective recruitment strategies and a disenchanted team contributing to his downfall. The situation reached a tipping point early in the 2019-20 season. By the 13th league game, Arsenal had managed just four wins, accumulating 18 points and standing eighth in the league, 19 points away from the top spot. This led to Emery’s dismissal from his position as head coach.
Revival at Aston Villa
Transitioning to Aston Villa, Emery faced initial challenges in implementing his tactical vision. After a promising win against Manchester United in his first game, Villa encountered a rough patch, losing six out of their next 11 games.
This period included an EFL Cup exit and an unexpected FA Cup loss to fourth-tier Stevenage. February 2024 started with three consecutive league losses against Leicester, Manchester City, and Arsenal, leaving Villa precariously close to the relegation zone.
A Remarkable Uptrend
However, the team’s fortunes took a positive turn. Since their 4-2 defeat to Arsenal on February 18, Villa hasn’t lost a home game in the Premier League. They now stand on the brink of setting a new club record for consecutive home league victories, aiming to surpass the 14-win streaks achieved in 1903 and 1931.
Aston Villa’s impressive run includes 18 wins out of 19 home matches across all competitions, with the only loss being to Everton in an EFL Cup match. This weekend’s game against Arsenal offers a chance for Villa to cement this remarkable achievement.
Aston Villa’s Remarkable Triumph Over Manchester City
Aston Villa’s recent 1-0 home victory against Manchester City was a standout performance. Astonishingly, they limited the Premier League and Champions League champions to only two shots throughout the match, and impressively, none after the 11th minute.
This achievement marked the lowest shot count ever for a team managed by Pep Guardiola in Europe’s top-five leagues. Aston Villa’s 22 shots were the joint-highest faced by a Guardiola team in his 535 games in these leagues. The 20-shot difference was the largest ever against a Guardiola-led team in his extensive top-flight managerial career.
Emery’s Tactical Mastery
Unai Emery demonstrated strategic brilliance in this matchup, with his Aston Villa team outperforming Manchester City in multiple aspects. Aston Villa achieved a remarkable feat by winning possession from Guardiola’s team 13 times, the most by any team against Manchester City in the Premier League under Guardiola’s management. Although Villa is not typically recognized for aggressive pressing, Emery devised a tactical plan to effectively disrupt the world’s top club team in possession, which his team executed flawlessly.
Villa’s Pressing and Offside Strategy
Under Emery’s leadership, Aston Villa has perfected the timing of their press in the final third. Since Emery took charge, only three teams have converted a higher percentage of high turnovers into shots on goal (17.5%). However, Villa’s average turnovers in the final third per game (7.3) is lower than several top teams like Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Manchester City.
A significant aspect of Villa’s strategy under Emery has been their use of a high defensive line, leading to a remarkable number of offsides. They have induced 173 offsides in the Premier League during Emery’s tenure, 78 more than any other team. While this approach has occasionally backfired, as seen in their heavy defeats at Newcastle and against Liverpool, it has often been effective in trapping opponents and disrupting their offensive flow.
This season, Aston Villa has excelled in catching opponents offside, leading the league with 71 instances, surpassing the combined total of Arsenal, Man City, and Newcastle. They’ve executed this strategy 30.2m from their own goal, second only to Wolves. However, this approach has occasionally backfired, giving opponents high-quality chances due to the space behind Villa’s defense. Since Unai Emery’s arrival, the team has faced the highest average non-penalty expected goals (xG) per shot in the league.
Under Emery, Villa has conceded 53.5 non-penalty xG in 40 games, slightly more than the 46.5 xG in the 40 games before his tenure. While their defense has shown vulnerabilities, excellent goalkeeping from Emiliano Martínez and poor opposition finishing have resulted in them conceding fewer goals than expected.
Emery’s aggressive, attack-oriented style makes Villa entertaining to watch, though maintaining this form could be challenging. Nonetheless, Villa’s current performance hints at potential success. They’ve secured 32 points in their first 15 games, matching Leicester City’s tally at the same stage during their 2015-16 title win. Historically, teams with this early success have consistently finished in the top five, and with a potential extra Champions League spot next season, Villa’s chances for European football look promising.
Emery’s average of 2.02 points per game over 40 matches places him among an elite group of managers, with all predecessors in this bracket having won the Premier League with their respective teams. Aston Villa’s 10 wins out of 15 this season are their best start since their last championship-winning season in 1980-81. These factors suggest a bright future for Villa, giving fans a reason to be optimistic.