Aston Villa looks like a changed side since the arrival of Unai Emery, finishing seventh last season and capturing European football in the form of the Conference League.
Villa finds themselves shooting for a top five finish in the Premier league and in contention for 2024/25 Champions League football primarily thanks to the inform pairing of Ollie Watkins and Douglas Luiz who are scoring freely for the Villa this season.
Recently Aston Villa suffered a 2-0 defeat away to Nottingham Forrest. “When Villa lose games that seems to be the area of weakness that people identify with the high line being easily exposed, Villa win more games than not playing with a high line so it’s a risk-reward situation” The Athletic’s Gregg Evans told Box2Box after Villa’s unexpected loss over the weekend.
“What Villa are going to find now is that teams are going to sit back a little more, try and soak up some of the pressure and put more pressure on them, with Forrest finding success against them using a high press and not letting Villa play out from the back”.
With the challenge of competing in European football and the Premier League, squad depth is a crucial aspect for any team to successfully balance the fast-approaching fixtures both competitions present. “When Villa loses, I start to question whether the squad depth is strong enough, but I do think Villa have a strong squad now with Emery being a master of rotating players to help have success in the league and in Europe”.
Evans believes Champions League football is a chance for Villa, outlining Manchester City, Liverpool, and Arsenal as the only three teams clearly better than them. “Villa are knocking about with five or six teams [for a Champions League spot] and they have proven over the first 10 games they are good enough to maintain it”.
“If a fifth Champions League position becomes available Villa have a really good chance to sneak in, it is hard to call it realistic, but I believe they are a chance”.