Aston Villa made it 11 Premier League home wins in a row as they thrashed West Ham United by four goals to one on Sunday afternoon. Star midfielder Douglas Luiz became the first player to score in six successive top-flight matches at Villa Park since Dwight Yorke in 1991, while Ollie Watkins netted his eighth goal of the season to round off a comprehensive victory. Unai Emery’s side were dominant and thoroughly deserved the three points, locking down fifth spot ahead of next Sunday’s clash at home to Luton Town. West Ham, meanwhile, have fallen to ninth following just their third league defeat of the campaign.
It wasn’t always dismay for the visitors as they nearly enjoyed a dream start with a first-minute opening. Michail Antonio broke free down the right and played in Lucas Paqueta, who teed up Jarrod Bowen just outside the six-yard area. The winger was given acres of space to get a shot away but Emiliano Martinez got across brilliantly to make a smart stop. The Villans responded to the early wake-up call with a spell of prolonged possession and an opportunity of their own as Luiz went agonisingly close to scoring a beautiful goal. Gifted far too much freedom on the edge of the Hammers’ penalty area, the Brazilian opened up his body and fired a dipping, powerful effort toward the top right-hand corner but Alphonse Areola made a superb diving save to tip it over. Villa Park gasped in synchrony as the replay appeared on the big screens on either side of the ground – it was that close.
Watkins really should’ve handed Villa a 15th-minute lead as he ended an exhilarating opening quarter of an hour with a surprising miss. The England international was found in the box by Moussa Diaby through the eye of a needle but he couldn’t get enough conviction on his effort, inducing a collective sigh around the stadium. The home crowd were preparing to celebrate as Watkins readied to strike the ball but the shot dribbled helplessly past the left post. Villa mounted the pressure on West Ham afterward, keeping the majority of play in the attacking third and earning their reward, finally scoring an opener. Nicolo Zaniolo worked some space on the left to feed Watkins and the striker laid the ball back to Luiz, who fired with wonderful technique on his right foot to deflect it into the net off Hammers defender Nayef Aguerd. The Brazilian wheeled away to celebrate scoring in six consecutive home Premier League matches.
The hosts started the second half positively and quickly made it two goals to the good as Luiz converted a penalty won by Ezri Konsa. Villa’s number four showed some outstanding anticipation to latch onto a sloppy Paqueta back pass and was caught by Edson Alvarez’s lazy leg. Referee David Coote hesitated for a moment but eventually pointed to the spot, giving Luiz the chance to step up to score his second of the game. The two-goal lead didn’t last long, however, as West Ham rode some luck on the counter attack. Bowen, who had been the visitors’ biggest threat on the break throughout the first half, fired from around 30 yards and it flicked off Pau Torres’ trailing leg to dribble into the far corner. Martinez tried his best to react to the deflection but couldn’t quite get across in time.
David Moyes’ team looked a completely different side after their goal and the momentum certainly shifted in the away side’s favour but they couldn’t capitalise. Aguerd first went close with a volley after a corner but was denied by a diving-headed clearance from Matty Cash. There was then a penalty shout as Konsa stuck out an arm in the area before Antonio burst down the right and forced a goal-line clearance from Cash. Watkins also got in on the defensive action as he headed away an inswinging corner that was just inches from his own net. Despite the intense West Ham pressure, though, it was Villa who scored the next goal, providing immense relief for the Villa Park faithful. Top scorer Watkins, who had been fairly quiet in the opening stages of the second half, showed his experience as he took on Kurt Zouma and smashed the ball beyond Areola at his near post. The striker had plenty to do as he dribbled around 20 yards after latching onto a long John McGinn ping. Leon Bailey, off the bench, then put the game beyond doubt in the 89th minute. Fellow substitute Youri Tielemans looked up to find the Jamaican in the area and he performed a stepover before curling the ball into the top left corner for 4-1.
Here are our Villa player ratings from a sublime victory under the lights at Villa Park.