Aston Villa secured a 3-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday with goals from Douglas Luiz, Jacob Ramsey and Emiliano Buendia sealing all three points.
After getting back to winning ways at home against Crystal Palace a fortnight ago and having followed that up with a draw at West Ham last time out, it was important that Villa continued our strong recent form to maintain our push up the table.
READ MORE: Emery praises Villa ace after influential role in Bournemouth win
Having made a quick start with the early goal, we had to bide our time to make it more comfortable but the second and third goals eventually came to wrap up a crucial victory against a difficult Bournemouth side high on confidence.
Despite the win, we remain in 11th place in the Premier League table, but we continue to close the gap on some of those above us ahead of what promises to be a thrilling final stretch of the campaign after the international break.
Defensive revival behind Villa form
In our four-game unbeaten run, Villa have scored seven and conceded just one, keeping three clean sheets.
Emery has reiterated the importance of keeping clean sheets and ultimately building on that to win games, and we’ve found the right balance consistently in recent weeks having also maintained our run of scoring in every outing since the Spanish tactician took charge.
Having become harder to beat, defensively more compact and organised while controlling games with possession, it’s been the foundation of our ability to rediscover some good form.
Cash solidifying spot at right-back
After initially struggling to win his place back after the World Cup, Matty Cash has responded brilliantly and is continuing to improve as he adapts and adjusts to Emery’s demands.
He was disciplined and resilient on Saturday as he defended well throughout and showed composure and quality in possession, and it’s important that he maintains that balance.
Reports earlier in the year suggested that he was perhaps struggling to convince Emery, but the Polish international is showing real improvement now.
Douglas Luiz making Villa tick
The Brazilian midfielder was singled out for significant praise from Emery in his post-match press conference, and he was deserving of it given the level of his performance.
Beyond helping us dictate the tempo and control possession, he did well off the ball too in winning it back higher up the pitch when possible and protecting the backline as we dropped back.
He’s established himself as a key figure under Emery, and there’s no doubt that he’s a fundamental player for us in terms of establishing our style and way of playing.
Ramsey produces best display under Emery
Ramsey was another who was praised by Emery after the game, as he ended his long wait for a goal contribution, with his last coming against Man Utd in November.
The 21-year-old got into threatening positions on several occasions, and it’s clear that he’s been given license to push forward and add a number in the box once we’ve worked it wide to get deliveries in.
It’s hoped that the goal will be the catalyst for him to find some consistency after the break and start to make a more decisive impact for us week in and week out.
Important to see goals shared around side
While it’s been great to see Ollie Watkins score so regularly and lead the line so well, we needed to avoid falling into the trap of being over-reliant on any one player for goals.
Prior to this weekend, the 27-year-old had scored six of our last 10 goals, and with a couple of those remaining four coming in the form of own goals, there was too much burden and responsibility on Watkins.
In turn, seeing Luiz, Ramsey and Buendia all get on the scoresheet on Saturday was a boost, and hopefully that shared approach will continue as it makes us a lot more dynamic and dangerous.
Crucial schedule ahead to determine season
A top-half finish is the minimum objective this season, but Villa have a big opportunity to put ourselves in contention for something a little more given our upcoming fixtures.
We’re set to face Chelsea, Newcastle Utd, Brentford, Fulham, Tottenham, Liverpool and Brighton in our remaining games, and given they’re all just above us in the standings, we have a chance to apply pressure and potentially leapfrog them in the table.
As we’ve heard since he arrived, Emery and Villa are likely to take it one game at a time – which is the sensible approach – but it promises to be an intriguing run in if we can get positive results against those sides mentioned above.