Aston Villa closed the gap to fourth-placed Tottenham after securing a 13th straight Premier League win at home with a 3-1 victory over Fulham.
Unai Emery’s side took a little while to get to their free-flowing best after a stop-star opening to the game, but they eventually broke the deadlock when Youri Tielemans’ cross was turned into his own net by Antonee Robinson.
The lead was doubled just before the interval when captain John McGinn drilled a low strike beyond the dive of Bernd Leno and into the bottom corner, and it looked to be game over when Ollie Watkins added a third in the 64th minute.
Raul Jimenez pulled a goal back for the visitors in the 70th minute, ending a run of 33 Premier League games without a goal for the striker, but it proved only to be a consolation as Villa secured an eighth win of the season.
Victory leaves fifth-placed Villa, who have opened the season with six straight wins at home for the first time since 1932/33, one point behind Spurs in fourth with Emery’s men facing a trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium when the Premier League returns after the international break.
Villa’s impressive home form continues…
Aston Villa have won each of their last 13 home games in the league, which is their longest such run in the top-flight since October 1983 (also run of 13).
Furthermore, the Villans have won 14 home games in the Premier League in 2023 – as many as in the previous two calendar years combined.
Meanwhile, it was another difficult afternoon for Fulham, who have just one win from their last seven league games.
Villa continue to make history at Villa Park
A fast, energetic start is what we’ve come to expect from Aston Villa at Villa Park and they flew out of the blocks once again. Ferocious pressing saw Tim Ream dispossessed inside his own penalty area before Leno kept out Moussa Diaby’s strike.
Villa continued to pile the pressure on Fulham and they thought they’d been awarded a penalty when referee Simon Hooper pointed to the spot after adjudging Ollie Watkins’ shot to have hit Tomothy Castagne’s arm. However, the spot kick was chalked off after Hooper was sent to the screen with the ball actually hitting the full-back in the face.
Aston Villa: Martinez (7), Cash (7), Konsa (8), Torres (7), Digne (7), McGinn (9), Luiz (7), Kamara (7), Tielemans (7), Diaby (7), Watkins (7).
Subs: Bailey (7).
Fulham: Leno (6), Castagne (6), Bassey (6), Ream (6), Robinson (5), Iwobi (7), Palhinha (5), Decordova-Reid (5), Pereira (6), Willian (6), Jimenez (7).
Subs: Wilson (7), Cairney (6), Vinicius (6), Reed (n/a), Traore (n/a).
Player of the match: John McGinn
Fulham managed to weather the early Villa storm and the home fans were beginning to get frustrated with the stop-start nature of the game.
However, the Fulham resistance was broken just before the half-hour mark when Tielemans curled a delivery from the left towards Moussa Diaby and the ball went in off Robinson.
As Villa sought a second, Matty Cash was denied by Leno, but the advantage was doubled in the 42nd minute as skipper McGinn fired past Leno from just outside the box.
Fulham responded well after the break. Alex Iwobi teed up Jimenez, who saw his goalbound effort touched onto the post by Emiliano Martinez. The ball came back to Willian and the Brazilian blazed the rebound over the crossbar.
Jimenez then returned the favour to Iwobi but the midfielder could only pull his volleyed effort wide of the target as Fulham looked the more likely to grab the next goal.
However, soon after Villa made it 3-0 as Leon Bailey, just off the bench, crossed and Watkins side footed in his 11th club goal of the season in all competitions.
- Aston Villa boss Unai Emery made three changes to his starting line-up for the home clash with Fulham. Douglas Luiz, Matty Cash and Pau Torres replaced Leon Bailey, Clement Lenglet and the injured Diego Carlos in the trio of adjustments from Thursday’s Europa Conference League win over AZ Alkmaar, while Youri Tielemans kept his place to make his first league start for Villa.
- Fulham’s team featured two alterations from the 1-0 loss to Manchester United last weekend as Raul Jimenez and Bobby De Cordova-Reid replaced Rodrigo Muniz – out with a knee issue – and Harry Wilson.
Jimenez produced a similar finish, teed up by Robinson in the 70th minute, to open his Fulham account – his first Premier League goal since March 2022.
Substitute Carlos Vinicius thought he had scored another for Fulham in the 81st minute when he went around Martinez and slotted in, but he was flagged offside.
The ball hit the Fulham bar off Palhinha in the closing stages before Watkins headed the loose
ball wide when looking certain to score, but it was a miss that mattered little come the final whistle as Villa continue to impress under Emery this season.
‘Villa have great opportunity to reach Champions League’
Clinton Morrison on Sky Sports News:
“Despite a better second half performance, Fulham never really threatened to win that game.
“Aston Villa were comfortable. That home form at Villa Park gets better and better.
“They are producing fluent performances and scoring bundles of goals.
It’s the next challenge. Last season it was top 10 but we got into Europe. We have to respect the teams who have been there for years. Fulham will cause a lot of teams problems.
“Unai Emery has done a fantastic job there. It’s another really positive performance from Villa.
“The only downside is the goal they conceded but Villa are flying. You can give them nothing but praise because they have been magnificent all season.
“I think it’s five teams that can get in the Champions League for next season. Aston Villa have a great opportunity. The way they are playing and the football they are producing, they can finish in the top five.”
Emery optimistic about Villa’s prospects
Aston Villa boss Unai Emery:
“It’s special for everyone. We connected very well with our supporters. We had control of the game in the first half. It was important for us to get the first goal [in the second half] but when they scored we needed to try to control the game and be consistent in our game plan and we were.
“We are the best scoring team in the league. It’s important because we’re showing our potential but we have to be stronger defensively.
“We had more control in the first half. We lost control of the game [at one stage]. They were trying to attack us and get behind and push a lot with some players.”
On Villa’s hopes of finishing high up in the Premier League: “Now today we can be happy and optimistic about where we are. But you have to be very consistent. It’s very difficult. We’ll try to work hard to be there. It’s always another challenge we’re facing. Now we’re very happy. We want to rest and come back next week to try to be in the same way we are doing. Facing Tottenham away is a big challenge. They are playing very well.”
Player of the match – John McGinn
McGinn produced a captain’s performance in the 3-1 win over Fulham.
His display, which included a fine goal to double Villa’s lead and saw him play a big part in their third, impressed ex-Birmingham striker Clinton Morrison.
“McGinn has been the best player on the pitch,” he told Sky Sports News. “He has been outstanding in the middle of the park. He’s absolutely run the show.”
The 29-year-old made nine dribbles in the victory – the most of any player – as he constantly caused problems for Fulham with Joao Palhinha enduring a torrid time against McGinn.
The Scotland international got the better of Palhinha for his goal as he outthought him to then fire in superbly from outside the box.
The Portuguese midfielder’s nightmare was complete in the second half when he was eventually booked for bringing down McGinn, who won seven fouls in the game – more than any other player. He also topped the charts for duels (22) and duels won (15).
“He is playing always being positive and trying to help the team,” said Emery of his captain. “We’re demanding of him. The fans love him a lot. It’s fantastic because he’s responding on the pitch and connecting with them and always playing with the game plan we have. He’s adding goals. He’s a very good example for everyone.”
The manager put a lot of pressure on me at the start of the season to get 10 goals. I have five in all competitions. Let’s see if I can put a smile on his face.
Silva: We need to be more clam
Fulham boss Marco Silva:
“The way we played in the second half, we showed our quality. The first half, no. Some details I don’t like to call unlucky. Another own goal. Even the second goal, two players fight for the ball. They’re not normal things.
“We need to be more relaxed and calm. We have to express ourselves on the ball. The first half not enough, second half completely different but it was 2-0. We gave the ball away so easy for the third goal. The reaction and commitment was there. We had a chance to make it 3-2 and it would be different until the end.”
Opta stats: Watkins and McGinn key for Aston Villa
- Ollie Watkins has been directly involved in 26 Premier League goals across 2023 (18 goals, eight assists), with only Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah boasting more involvements across this calendar year.
- John McGinn has been involved in eight goals across 19 appearances in all competitions this season (five goals, three assists) – his joint-most in a single campaign for Aston Villa since their promotion to the Premier League in 2019 (alongside 2020-21, eight goal involvements in 37 appearances).
- Antonee Robinson is the only player to have scored multiple own goals in the Premier League this season (two), and the first Fulham player to do so in a single campaign in the top-flight since Chris Baird in 2011-12 (also two).
- Raul Jiménez scored his first Premier League goal in this match since March 2022 against Watford – ending a run of 33 games without a goal in the competition. In fact, the striker had gone 45 shots without scoring in the Premier League prior to this strike.
FPL stats: Aston Villa 3-1 Fulham
|Goals||Robinson OG, McGinn, Watkins | Jimenez|
|Assists||Bailey, Diaby | Robinson|
|Bonus points||McGinn (3), Jimenez (2), Watkins (1), Robinson (1)|
After the international break, Aston Villa travel to Tottenham on Sunday November 26, live on Super Sunday on Sky Sports; kick-off 2pm.
Meanwhile, Fulham are back in action on Monday November 27. They host Wolves on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 8pm.
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