Aston Villa's Top 10 wins under Unai Emery

Now that a busy transfer window has begun and rumours fly around the block, we take some time out from the transfer window to look back on some tremendous moments under Unai Emery so far.
Burnley FC v Aston Villa - Premier League
Burnley FC v Aston Villa - Premier League / George Wood/GettyImages

Taking inspiration from 'Claret & Blue - An Aston Villa Podcast' who produced a fantastic episode on Villa's best and worst ten results since Unai Emery's arrival at the club, this article will present my favourite 10 Unai Emery victories. Despite some great results and fond memories from this year's UEFA Europa Conference League, all the matches I have selected are Premier League games. They will be placed in a descending order from ten to one, with number one of course being my favourite.

10. Chelsea 0-2 Aston Villa (1st April 2023)

John McGinn
Chelsea FC v Aston Villa - Premier League / Clive Rose/GettyImages

Being on April Fool's day, you could forgive Villa fans for being tricked into thinking Villa actually managed a result away at Chelsea if they hadn't been able to watch the game. Despite finishing in the bottom half of the table in 2002/23, Chelsea away is always a tough game and Unai Emery's side performed magnificently. Villa took the lead through Ollie Watkins's lob over Kepa after 18 minutes before a John McGinn rocket in the second half sealed the points. Villa rode their luck at times in the first half, but defended solidly and did more than enough to take the points. Having visited Stamford Bridge in the past to see us on the wrong end of 8-0 and 7-1 score lines, to walk away from Stamford Bridge with a victory was a sweet feeling. The result meant Villa were flying under Emery away from home having won five and drawn one of seven games on the road since he took over.

9. Aston Villa 6-1 Brighton (30th September 2023)

Jacob Ramsey, Ollie Watkins
Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League / Nathan Stirk/GettyImages

During the first half of the season I was lucky enough to be travelling through South-East Asia with my fiancé. During the time of the Brighton game I was on a motorbike completing the Ha Giang Loop in Vietnam and many of the English folk with me said Villa had little hope in getting a result in this game. Brighton, at the time, were flying at the top of the table and playing excellent football. This would be a tough early season test for Villa against a top team. Well, it's fair to say they did okay. To my amazement, after a days riding through the North Vietnam countryside I was able to find a WI-FI connection to see we had put six goals past The Seagulls. An Ollie Watkins hat-trick accompanied by goals from Douglas Luiz, Jacob Ramsey and a Pervis Estupinan own goal gave Villa a comfortable victory. This victory really laid down a marker that Villa were a team to be taken seriously under Emery. This game was also one of my favourites last season due to the Jacob Ramsey goal. A fantastic player that we were unfortunate not to see more of due to his ongoing injury problems. Next year, he will be back to his best!

8. Leicester 1-2 Aston Villa (4th April 2023)

Bertrand Traore, John McGinn
Leicester City v Aston Villa - Premier League / Eddie Keogh/GettyImages

Villa backed up their impressive result just three days earlier at Stamford Bridge with another crucial win on the road. Heading into the latter stages of the season, it was crucial Villa maintained the winning momentum to boost their hopes of qualifying for Europe and this was a seriously morale-boosting victory. Ollie Watkins gave the team the lead halfway through the first half with a well timed run in behind the Leicester defence before sliding the ball slowly into the corner. Harvey Barnes eualised for the hosts before half time and Villa looked cagey for long periods in the second half. However, with only a few minutes left to play an unlikely hero popped up to give Villa victory. Bertrand Traore, who had hardly kicked a ball since returning from his loan spell in Turkey, came in from the right to whip a delicious curler into the far top right corner. The celebrations with the fans proved how much the goal meant to him and how important it was for the team.

7. Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Aston Villa (1st January 2023)

Emi Buendia
Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa - Premier League / Clive Rose/GettyImages

Villa's 2023 started with a massive bang! Following the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in December Villa suffered a 3-1 loss at home to Liverpool and the prospect of going away to Spurs was a daunting one. However, after riding some early pressure from the hosts in the opening stages Villa dominated the game and second half goals from Emi Buendia and Douglas Luiz gave the visitors a much deserved victory. Villa sat in 12th place ahead of the game and a win was key to continue the early momentum Unai Emery had gathered in his first few months in charge. Tottenham sat in 6th place at the time of this game and by the end of the season Villa pipped Spurs to 7th place to seal a European spot for the next season, with Spurs missing out. This game was vital.

6. Aston Villa 2-1 Brighton (28th May 2023)

Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League / Eddie Keogh/GettyImages

Fast forward to the final game of the 2022/23 season which saw Villa seal their place in last season's UEFA Europa Conference League. Having continued to perform brilliantly and win games throughout the second half of the season Villa's fate was in their own hands and knew a win against Brighton would seal qualification. There was a party atmosphere for hours prior to kick off and the noise didn't stop for the full ninety minutes and beyond. Douglas Luiz and Ollie Watkins gave Villa a 2-0 lead before Deniz Udav halved the defecit just before half time. The second half was nervy and the fans could hardly watch at times as Villa aimed to hold on to secure a place in Europe for the first time in 13 years. The final whistle finally came with captain McGinn keeping the ball in the corner in front of me in L9 and the scenes of pure joy amongst the Villa Park faithful was wonderful to see. It was a pleasure to be in the Holte End that day.

5. Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal (9th December 2023)

John McGinn
Aston Villa v Arsenal FC - Premier League / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Having beaten Premier League champions Manchester City just three days earlier (that game might make the top 1, spoiler alert!), Villa faced an Arsenal side that had hit a slight dip in form in what was a fantastic start to the season for them. The performance was very different to the one against City. Against City, Villa dominated throughout and restricted the champions to just two shots all game. The score really could have been three or four. Against The Gunners, Villa had to dig in deep and defend for their lives at times. Villa teams of the past would have rolled over fairly easily against such a good team. Not this one though. Villa were physical, gritty and determined to get the three points. In the midst of all that, was my vote for goal of the season. A wonderful team move that started at the back with Pau Torres, saw every player on the pitch minus Lucas Digne touch the ball in the build up. Leon Bailey eventually had it down the right and his cut back was expertly tucked home by captain McGinn. To back up the result a few days earlier made a clear statement to the big boys at the top of the league that Villa were serious about wanting to finish in the top four.

4. Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United (6th November 2022)


Having not beaten Manchester United at Villa Park in the league since 1995 Unai Emery couldn't have had a much tougher first match as Aston Villa Head Coach. However, Emery quickly showed the Villa Park faithful what is all about and it was obvious from the start that the system had changed following the Steven Gerrard disaster era. Leon Bailey struck home beautifully to give Villa the lead before Lucas Digne doubled that lead with a brilliant free kick. Luke Shaw grabbed a goal back just before half time to halve the lead which left Villa fans thinking: 'Here we go, again". However, it was no longer the Villa of old and the team re-established their two-goal lead through Jacob Ramsey. A perfect way to start the new era under Emery and a sign of great things to come. To see Cristiano Ronaldo be pocketed by Tyrone Mings all game and throw a tantrum was also a bonus!

3. Aston Villa 3-0 Newcastle (15th April 2023)

Jacob Ramsey
Aston Villa v Newcastle United - Premier League / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

In my twenty years supporting Aston Villa football club, this was the most complete performance I had seen a Villa team put together. Villa had been on a run of six wins and a draw from their previous seven games but faced a Newcastle team flying high in the Champions League spots. From the moment the whistle blew to start the game, it was one way traffic. Villa blew Newcastle away with their speed in attack and nearly took the lead through Watkins in the opening couple of minutes. His shot unfortunately struck the post. However, Villa continued to set the tempo early on and took the lead through a Jacob Ramsey thunderbolt from the edge of the box after ten minutes. Villa continued to have Newcastle on the ropes but it wasn't until the second half that an Ollie Watkins double gave Villa the comfortable lead they deserved. Newcastle didn't threaten the Villa goal at all, mainly as a result of Douglas Luiz bossing his Brazilian teammate Bruno Guimaraes in midfield. It was a perfect performance that saw Villa outclass Newcastle tactically and confirmed Villa were in real contention to qualify for Europe. Not bad considering the team were 17th in the table when Emery took over just 6 months before.

2. Arsenal 0-2 Aston Villa (14th April 2024)

Leon Bailey
Arsenal FC v Aston Villa - Premier League / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

As the squad began to fatigue due to a long league and European campaign, not many gave Villa a chance of getting a result away at an Arsenal team that hadn't lost since 31st December. The chance of gaining a win was also hampered by the absence of Douglas Luiz through suspension and the ongoing injury to Boubacar Kamara. Arsenal's incredible midfield was bound to overrun a makeshift Villa midfield, no? Absolutely not. Youri Tielemans and John McGinn ran the show from the middle of the park and managed to restrict Arsenal to very few chances. Emi Martinez was forced into one outstanding save to deny Trossard in the first half, but other than that Villa were in control. Tielemans and Watkins both hit the woodwork as Villa pressure on the Arsenal goal begin to increase. With just five minutes left to play, Leon Bailey popped up at the back post to stroke home before an audacious Ollie Watkins dink over David Raya gave the away side an unlikely victory. At a time where a depleted and injury-ravaged squad were clearly struggling to repeat the early season performances, the victory was massive in giving Villa the confidence that they could hang on to their top four spot.

1. Aston Villa 1-0 Manchester City (6th December 2023)


You probably could have guessed which Unai Emery victory would claim the winning prize! Villa's victory at home to Manchester City in December was one that the fans couldn't have dreamed of. Manchester City had just two shots in the ninety minutes and were simply outplayed by Emery's men. Compared to City's two shots, Villa had 22 of their own and the pressure on City's goal mounted as the game went on. However, despite the dominance it looked like the goal may never come for Villa who continued to push. Then, with 15 minutes left to play, Leon Bailey went on one of his magical runs. He reached the edge of the box and his right-footed shot deflected off Ruben Dias and into the top corner. The Villa Park roof nearly collapsed as the sheer noise from the home crowd took over. Villa could have added many more to their tally but Ederson and the City defence did enough to ensure there was no further damage. Unai Emery gained his first ever victory over Pep Guardiola in management and Villa climbed above the reigning champions into third place. It was a magical night at Villa Park and one that will live long into the memory.