Aston Villa’s incredible home form could provide a platform for a run at the Champions League spots in the Premier League this season. A 4-1 hammering of West Ham on Sunday made it four straight wins — and 17 goals in the process — for Unai Emery’s team in its four matches at Villa Park so far.
Villa moved a point off the top four after nine games and has a couple of players in strong scoring form. Brazil midfielder Douglas Luiz scored twice and England striker Ollie Watkins added another, with both moving onto five for the campaign. Substitute Leon Bailey also netted for Villa.
Luiz drove home the 30th-minute opener from the edge of the area after a lay-off from Watkins before converting a penalty in the 51st following Nayef Aguerd’s trip on Ezri Konsa. Jarrod Bowen pulled a goal back for West Ham in the 56th when his long-range shot deflected off Pau Torres and span into the far corner.
Watkins, who netted a winner for England against Australia in the recent international break, restored Villa’s two-goal lead with the pick of the goals. He ran onto John McGinn’s long ball forward, performed a step-over to create space, then lashed a left-foot finish into the roof of the net.
Bailey struck a finish into the top corner to crown another impressive home performance from Villa. There was a period of applause before kickoff in a tribute to England and Manchester United great Bobby Charlton, who died on Saturday at the age of 86.
Nicolo Zaniolo started and played 76 minutes despite the Italy international being involved in a betting investigation in his home country. Villa said ahead of the game that Zaniolo “is assisting the Italian Football Federation and the relevant authorities’ investigation into alleged illegal betting activity.”
Zaniolo and Newcastle midfielder Sandro Tonali were sent back to their clubs from Italy’s training camp this month after being notified by police of involvement in the probe.