‘Special’ Villa leapfrog shot-shy City to go third – but Emery insists that his side are no chance for the title


High-flying Aston Villa have produced a stunning performance to beat champions Manchester City 1-0 in the EPL thanks to a second-half strike from Leon Bailey.

The result meant Villa climbed above City, who again badly missed the suspended Rodri and are now without a win in four games, into third place – but coach Unai Emery ruled out any hope of a title tilt.

“We are not contenders,” he said.

“There are seven teams who are contenders more than us. We are going to play on Saturday against Arsenal and we are going to focus on it.

“If we keep progressing during the season, playing matches and winning like we are doing, maybe we can be a contender but I think we need more time.

“It is game 15. Maybe by game 30 or 32, but not yet.”

Aston Villa have won their last 14 Premier League home games in a row.

The last team to beat them at Villa Park was Arsenal.

The next team to visit Villa Park is Arsenal.

— Orbinho (@Orbinho) December 6, 2023

Emi Martinez twice denied Erling Haaland early on but the hosts were the stronger side throughout at Villa Park, racking up 22 shots to City’s two.

After that early involvement, the Villa keeper was able to take the rest of the night off as Pep Guardiola’s men failed to muster another effort at all.

Villa finally earned the reward for their pressure in the 74th minute – albeit with a stroke of luck – when Bailey’s shot took a huge deflection off Ruben Dias to loop into the net.

Manchester City had 2 shots all game against Villa and they both came within 10 seconds of each other.

They also occurred in the 11th minute.#AVFC

— Alex Conrad (@alexhconrad) December 6, 2023

“Aston Villa were better,” said the City coach.

“They played a fantastic game, we struggled to make our process and be more aggressive in moments, but, yes, the better team won.

“We played with our desire but they played better. We struggled, especially in the first half and the second was completely different. In the final third the quality of the pass and the movement, we didn’t find it all game.”

On the BBC, Pat Nevin declared Villa capable of hanging around in the upper echelons of the league following another superb showing.

“Unai Emery is doing an absolutely phenomenal job at Aston Villa,” said the ex-Chelsea star.

“How wrong I was after seeing them get thrashed up in Newcastle in the early weeks of the season.

“Emery has got this side playing together, as a unit and as a team. The belief and attitude from every single player, there was no fear at any point of this game against Man City, one of the best teams we have seen for many years.

“This is a special team that Emery has put together. I don’t think you can bet against them finishing in the top four this year, plenty may think they are just visiting but I think they’ve got what it takes.”

Second-placed Liverpool moved within two points of leaders Arsenal again by spoiling Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United return and winning 2-0 at Bramall Lane.

Wilder, who guided United to promotion to the top flight in 2019 before being sacked in March 2021, replaced Paul Heckingbottom in the Blades’ hotseat earlier this week.

But Liverpool captain Virgil Van Dijk quietened the raucous home support when he volleyed the visitors ahead in the 37th minute. Dominik Szoboszlai made victory certain in stoppage time.

Scott McTominay scored twice as Manchester United held on to give manager Erik Ten Hag some breathing space with a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford.

Leon Bailey fires Aston Villa ahead against Manchester City!

Villa Park goes absolutely bonkers as they lead the Champions.

LIVE | https://t.co/zuSB5xTJ3g#PL #OptusSport pic.twitter.com/B7A0jh6nx9

— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) December 6, 2023

McTominay turned in a rebound to give United a 19th-minute lead after both sides had spurned earlier chances, Bruno Fernandes having a penalty saved and Mykhailo Mudryk hitting the post.

Cole Palmer levelled before the interval but McTominay headed in a cross from Alejandro Garnacho to seal it for United after 69 minutes.

Alex Iwobi and Raul Jimenez both scored twice as Fulham thrashed Nottingham Forest 5-0 at Craven Cottage to pile more pressure on Forest boss Steve Cooper.

Scott McTominay has a double!!

And Manchester United lead Chelsea at Old Trafford.

LIVE | https://t.co/gkVXy0v3rI#PL #OptusSport pic.twitter.com/caovAAtCnL

— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) December 6, 2023

“It was a painful night and a scoreline we deserve,” Cooper said.

“If you show a lack of desire you run the risk of getting what we got tonight.

“I have to take responsibility for it and it’s on me. I have to take ownership for that but it’s embarrassing.”

Brighton came from behind to beat Brentford 2-1 at the Amex Stadium.

The visitors struck first with a Bryan Mbuemo penalty on 27 minutes but Pascal Gross quickly levelled.

A first senior goal for 18-year-old Jack Hinshelwood early in the second half proved decisive.

“It is an unbelievable feeling, it was my first game playing here at the Amex in front of all these fans,” Hinshelwood, who joined the club aged seven, told broadcaster Amazon Prime.

“The fans, players and manager have all shown great belief in me and I am just trying to repay them.”

Bournemouth continued their recent revival with a hard-earned 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace.

Marcos Senesi headed the Cherries in front on 25 minutes with Kieffer Moore heading home a second in stoppage time.

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