Aston Villa are well into the European places of the Premier League table after a 3-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday saw them retain their sixth-place position.
Jacob Ramsey opened the scoring in the 11th minute and Ollie Watkins tacked on insurance markers in the 64th and 83rd minutes, extending his remarkable run of form under Unai Emery.
Villa win a fifth-straight match and for the seventh time in the last eight outings. With 50 points, they’re three points adrift of Spurs in fifth, one point ahead of seventh-place Brighton, and firmly in contention to qualify for European competition next season.
If Villa finish the season in seventh place or higher, they would likely play in the Europa Conference League or the Europa League.
Villa have not participated in a European competition since the 2010/11 season, when they lost a Europa League play-off round tie to Rapid Vienna, 4-3 on aggregate.
Aston Villa’s sights set on Europe
Villa’s rise under Emery has been meteoric — no side in the Premier League has won more points in calendar year 2023 (32) than the Birmingham outfit. And although European qualification seems a lofty goal, the players and the manager are not shy to talk about it.
“We are adding different objectives,” said Emery after the Newcastle match. “At the beginning it was about escaping the bottom, which was very difficult but we did it. Now we are trying to be consistent in the top ten, but I think after this victory we can add another realistic objective to try and get a top six position and to play in Europe next year.
“It’s going to be very, very difficult. We have to be ambitious and, of course, realistic but we are facing the next challenge and trying to do it.”
“It’s a bit of a balance, I think a few weeks ago it was unfair for us to even talk about Europe,” captain John McGinn added.
“I think the manager has been strong on it in the past couple of weeks, we’ve now put ourselves in a position where we are contenders [for Europe].”
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