Douglas Luiz scored twice as Aston Villa moved within two points of the Premier League’s top spot with a 4-1 win over West Ham at Villa Park.
Douglas Luiz’s low drive late in the first half proved too hot for Hammers goalkeeper Alphonse Areola to handle, giving Unai Emery’s side the lead that their enterprising performance deserved. He added a second from the penalty spot early in the second half.
David Moyes’ men made it more awkward for Aston Villa after Jarrod Bowen’s deflected strike found the corner of the net. But late goals from Ollie Watkins and substitute Leon Bailey helped to ensure an 11th consecutive Premier League home win for Villa.
Aston Villa: Martinez (7), Cash (7), Konsa (7), Torres (6), Digne (6), Luiz (8), Kamara (7), McGinn (7), Diaby (7), Watkins (7), Zaniolo (7).
Subs: Bailey (7), Tielemans (n/a).
West Ham: Areola (6), Coufal (6), Zouma (5), Aguerd (6), Emerson (5), Alvarez (6), Soucek (5), Ward-Prowse (6), Paqueta (6), Bowen (7), Antonio (5).
Subs: Kudus (5), Ings (n/a).
Player of the match: Douglas Luiz.
“We want to be in the top five,” Emery had told Sky Sports before kick-off, with such a finish likely to be enough to secure Champions League football next season. As it stands, that is exactly where they are in the table. And upwardly mobile under the Spaniard.
How the game played out at Villa Park
The afternoon began with a moment of silence for the innocent victims of the Israel-Hamas war and heartfelt applause in celebration of the life of Sir Bobby Charlton, who passed away at the age of 86 on Saturday. What followed was an entertaining contest.
Villa had the better of the possession from the outset, Luiz forcing a spectacular save from Areola early on and Watkins dragging his shot wide of the target when well placed soon after. But the home side had their reward for their superiority before the half was out.
- Aston Villa: Aston Villa recalled Nicolo Zaniolo to the starting line-up in place of Diego Carlos as Unai Emery reverted back to the team that thrashed Brighton last time out at Villa Park.
- West Ham: David Moyes kept the same West Ham team that drew at home to Newcastle prior to the international break.
Nicolo Zaniolo, starting while he assists with a betting investigation, did brilliantly to find Watkins inside the West Ham penalty box and the Villa striker found Luiz in space on the edge of the penalty box. Areola was unable to keep out the Brazilian’s low strike.
That seemed to spark an otherwise passive West Ham and there were opportunities for Lucas Paqueta and Bowen before the interval with Villa’s high line enough to offer encouragement. But hope appeared to be extinguished early in the second half.
Paqueta’s slack pass allowed Ezri Konsa to nip in to intercept ahead of Edson Alvarez and the referee pointed to the spot. Luiz did the rest, beating Areola with his penalty. The midfield playmaker has now scored in his last six Premier League appearances at Villa Park.
The mood then switched in a moment. Bowen’s strike from distance on the angle deflecting into the bottom corner of the net off Pau Torres. It put the tension back into the game and West Ham had their best spell as they pushed for a previously unlikely equaliser.
Amid a tense atmosphere, there were groans when Torres’ loose pass appeared to be heading into the path of West Ham’s Mohammed Kudus. But the substitute failed to control and John McGinn was able to send Watkins away down the left channel to score.
It was an emphatic finish by the England forward and an ultimately emphatic win for Aston Villa thanks to Bailey’s late strike. They have the fourth-best record in the Premier League since Emery’s arrival. No wonder they are dreaming of the Champions League.
Bailey: ‘The sky is the limit for us’
“The atmosphere today was brilliant,” Bailey told Sky Sports.
“Not even for us, for the fans. They can come to the stadium and enjoy getting a victory. We’re getting the results and hope it continues.
“The team spirit with everyone is great, whether you start or you come in. Even players from the bench, we carry out the instructions. I did that with a great goal.
“The sky is the limit for us. Let’s just move on to the next one, an important game on Thursday and focus on what’s next in front of us.”
Villa’s win in numbers
- Aston Villa have won 11 consecutive home league matches for the first time since a run of 13 ending in October 1983. The only clubs in Europe’s big five leagues currently on longer winning runs at home are Manchester City (14) and Atletico Madrid (13).
- Douglas Luiz became the first player to score in six consecutive home games for Aston Villa in the Premier League, surpassing the record previously held by Dwight Yorke.
- Jarrod Bowen became the third player in Premier League history to score in each of his team’s first five away games in a campaign, after Thierry Henry and Mohamed Salah. Bowen is the first player to do so for West Ham in the top-flight.
- Ollie Watkins has been directly involved in 27 goals across his 33 appearances for Aston Villa in the Premier League since Unai Emery’s first game in charge. Only Mohamed Salah (35) and Erling Haaland (33) have contributed to more goals in this time.
Both Aston Villa and West Ham are in European action in midweek.
Aston Villa travel to AZ on Thursday in the Europa Conference League; kick-off 5.45pm. West Ham are also on the road on Thursday when they travel to Greece to face Olympiakos; kick-off also 5.45pm.
Meanwhile, when the teams return to domestic action, Villa host Luton on Sunday October 29; kick-off 2pm, and West Ham host Everton on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 1pm.