Despite Aston Villa’s recent setbacks with three consecutive losses at home in both the Premier League and FA Cup, I remain optimistic that they will secure a top-four finish. I don’t think their season will simply fizzle out.
Sunday’s narrow defeat to Manchester United, particularly with a last-minute goal, will undoubtedly sting. Psychologically, it was a significant blow, especially considering that a draw would have preserved the eight-point gap between the two clubs.
Indeed, it’s frustrating for Villa fans to witness their team dominate against Manchester United in two thrilling encounters, only to come away empty-handed on both occasions. Losing 3-2 at Old Trafford in December and then suffering another last-minute defeat on Sunday means Villa have relinquished six crucial points to a direct rival for a Champions League spot.
While the recent defeat is disappointing, Unai Emery’s meticulous organisation, evident game plans, and tactical adjustments during matches reinforce my belief that they have what it takes to overcome this current setback.
Villa’s recent poor results don’t reflect a sudden decline in their performance. The main difference now, compared to earlier in the season, is their inability to capitalise on opportunities in tight matches.
Ollie Watkins, in particular, is experiencing a phase where he’s struggling to find the net as consistently as before. While he scored nine goals in his first 17 Premier League games of the season, he has only managed to score twice in his last seven appearances.
Despite receiving a similar number of chances per game, Watkins’ conversion rate has dropped significantly, leading to a shift from over-performing to under-performing based on his expected goals.
Villa’s next few fixtures (Fulham, Nottingham Forest and Luton Town) provide them an opportunity to get back on a winning run and cement their top-four aspirations.