Aston Villa jump up to 6th with win over Nottingham Forest
Aston Villa eased past Nottingham Forest for a 2-0 victory at Villa Park on Saturday, and in the process moved into 6th place in the Premier League table.
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Unai Emery’s side (47 points) now sits a point and a place above fellow overachievers and Europa League chasers Brighton, who were beaten by Tottenham on Saturday, though the Seagulls have two games in hand still to play. Nottingham Forest (27 points - 18th place), meanwhile, remain in the relegation zone, behind 17th-place Everton on goal difference at the moment (-20 to -30).
Forest held firm for a half, but Aston Villa broke through just after the restart as Bertrand Traore hammered a left-footed finish inside the far post from close range. It was a preventable goal for Steve Cooper’s side, though, with Jonjo Shelvey playing the ball straight to Traore atop the six-yard box, thinking he had a teammate present and ready to receive the pass.
The score remained 1-0 until the final seconds of stoppage time, when Ollie Watkins weaved his way past two defenders and lifted the ball over Keylor Navas to make it 2-0. That makes an even dozen PL goals for Watkins and three straight seasons in double digits since signing from Brentford in the summer of 2020.
And the Premier League’s 2nd-best on-form side is…
Aston Villa, duh.
Saturday made it seven games unbeaten for Julen Lopetegui’s side (6W-1D-0L), as only Arsenal have been better over their last seven games (Manchester City have an equal 19 points). They have conceded just two goals in the seven games, while scoring 13. One slight asterisk, of course: all seven games have been against sides currently in the bottom half of the table, including 11th-place Chelsea.
Steve Cooper reaction: Forest fans’ support beautiful, hurtful
On Nottingham Forest’s performance (via the BBC): “We were fine in the game. We’re away from home, our away record speaks for itself and we won’t try and hide from that, I certainly won’t. We were fine. To give that goal away and the way we gave it away, we can only blame ourselves. Even though we did respond well ten men completely stifled our rhythm and it felt like a day where a lot of things didn’t go our way.”
On fans chanting his name in support after Cooper was backed by ownership this week: “That’s the bit that hurts the most, that we and I are desperate to do well for the supporters and the club. It makes these moments and these mistakes and these goals even more costly and even more hurtful. I repeat what I’ve said, we can blame nobody but ourselves because of the mistakes we made.”
Stars of the show
Aston Villa will face a tough test next Saturday (7:30 am ET), when Newcastle (56 points - 3rd place) turn up at Villa Park hoping for three more points to boost their Champions League chase. Forest will host the other side currently holding down a top-four place, Manchester United, on Sunday (11:30 am ET).
How to watch Aston Villa vs Nottingham Forest live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10am ET, SaturdayTV Channel: PeacockOnline: Stream via Peacock Premium
Key storylines & in-form players to watch
Forest has scored in five-straight games. The Tricky Trees have... two points gained from that run. This is with Keylor Navas of all players at the back. It makes for fun viewing but Forest needs to get more control of the game and Danilo can help with this in the midfield.
Villa is getting lung-bursting performances from Ollie Watkins and Jacob Ramsey, and Unai Emery’s team is just exhausting those opponents looking for a walk in the park or any reasonable amount of time on the ball at the back.
Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: Matty Cash (calf), Philippe Coutinho (thigh), Boubacar Kamara (ankle), Jed Steer (calf)
Nottingham Forest team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: Serge Aurier (knock), Scott McKenna (thigh), Willy Boly (thigh), Dean Henderson (thigh), Giulian Biancone (knee), Omar Richards (calf), Chris Wood (thigh), Ryan Yates (shoulder).