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Why have Villa stopped winning?

Ollie Watkins
Ollie Watkins

Nat Hayward, BBC Sport

In early December, two 1-0 wins in a week against last season's one and two Manchester City and Arsenal left Aston Villa two points off the top of the Premier League.

'Are Villa in the title race?' chat filled column inches and dominated radio phone-ins in the days following, only increased after their dramatic win at Brentford in their next game.

Since then, Unai Emery's side have just one win in five Premier League matches - a controversial late win over relegation threatened Burnley, and in the FA Cup had a 1-0 win at Championship side Middlesbrough and a 0-0 draw at Chelsea.

Villa's last home defeat came almost a year ago back in February 2023, but a performance lacking intensity and energy allowed a Newcastle side without a win on the road for four months to dismantle them with ease.

Looking at their expected goals (xG) and not including penalties, Villa's stats dipped against Burnley, Everton and Newcastle, suggesting they ought to have scored two more in total than they managed in those.

In fact in the fixtures since the Brentford win, only against Manchester United did they overperform their xG and that was a game where they threw away a two-goal lead.

This underperformance has happened before (in seven of 17 games pre-Brentford) but is more apparent since that game, particularly when the two FA Cup ties are also thrown into the mix. It hints at new issues with chance creation and, more crucially, chance conversion.

Coinciding with a slight drop in form from sole striker Ollie Watkins, whose goal last night was his first since 17 December, it is an unwanted problem for Unai Emery to solve.

If his side are to maintain their push for a top-four place, let alone the rapidly fading title chat, Villa desperately need to regain their cutting edge.

And quickly.

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An image detailing how to follow your Premier League team on BBC Sport: "On the app? Tap the bell icon to get news about your club sent to you. Signed in on a browser? Hit 'Follow' to stay up to date.