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Is Unai Emery turning Aston Villa into the "Sevilla of the Premier League?"

When Unai Emery took over at Aston Villa, he was in charge of a team fighting to move away from the relegation zone.

Villa's stunning 3 - 0 win over Newcastle at the weekend has not only made them mathematically safe with seven games to play, it's also put them right up there in the race for European Football. So is Emery on track to mould Aston Villa into a Sevilla-type team for the Premier League?

Along with Arsenal and Newcastle, Aston Villa have undergone one of the greatest transitions this season. But what sets Emery apart individually is that he turned it around overnight.

In the final game before Emery's appointment, Aston Villa were hammered 4 - 0 at St James' Park. They'd won just three league games all season and with two games to go until the World Cup, they were flirting right above the relegation zone.

Unai Emery came in and was thrown into the deep end, with Premier League games at home to Manchester United and away to Brighton either side of a Carabao Cup tie at Old Trafford. Most Villa fans were fully prepared to drop six more points and crash out of the cup.

The reality was a dream in comparison.

Aston Villa outclassed in-form Manchester United at Villa Park, winning 3 - 1 with an exciting counter-attacking display. Whilst they did lose 4 - 2 to United in the Carabao Cup a few days later, they followed up their league result with a fantastic 3 - 1 win away to Brighton.

Fast-forward five months, and Emery's side are playing some of the best football in Europe let alone the Premier League. It's a big statement, but the Villains are living up to it.

They've won seven and drawn one of their last eight Premier League games, winning five league games in a row for the first time in 25 years. As a result of this run, only Arsenal have more points than Aston Villa since Emery took over.

When Emery came in the defence hadn't been fantastic, but it was by no means a catastrophe; Villa had only conceded 13 times in their ten league matches. What needed fixing was their attack.

Some dire showings in front of goal, stemming from static performances in midfield, meant that Villa needed a new style, a new identity. Unai Emery has delivered.

A dynamic midfield built around John McGinn and Douglas Luiz has helped Aston Villa to play with a fantastic tempo, moving and playing as a team rather than a collection of individuals.

All they needed beyond that was a goal scorer. Enter Ollie Watkins.

The number 11 has more goal involvements (15) than anyone else in the Premier League since the World Cup. He has scored 11 times in 12 Premier League appearances. He quite simply never seems to miss.

His performance against Newcastle at the weekend was absolutely astonishing, scoring the second and third goals after setting up the first.

The combination of a team who play that well as a unit with a couple of gems like Douglas Luiz and Ollie Watkins at the heart of it has every chance to compete in European competition.

So how about a Sevilla or Villarreal-style European run? Well first Villa have to get there.

It's difficult to remember just how poor they were under Steven Gerrard at the start of the season, but it could come back to bite Aston Villa.

Qualifying for European competition is not only difficult, it's also complicated. The top four qualify for the Champions League, that's simple enough. Fifth is a group stage spot for the Europa League.

Sixth and seventh however may or may not be European spots depending on the outcome of the two cup competitions. Manchester United have won the Carabao Cup so sixth is currently a Conference League spot.

If the FA Cup winners are already in the top six, then seventh will become a Conference League spot and sixth will qualify for the Europa League.

Aston Villa are currently sixth, but have played two more games than Brighton and one more than Liverpool below them. Brighton are only one point behind, but their two games in hand are against Manchester City and Newcastle.

Liverpool have fairly straightforward fixtures, but their drastic inconsistency this season means they're never a sure bet for three points.

That already sounds mouthwatering as it is, but believe it or not it gets even better!

Aston Villa's last three games of the season? Tottenham at home, Liverpool away and Brighton at home.

Emery has become a specialist in big games over the course of his career. He's won the Europa League four times, more than any other manager.

His side will close the season with three finals. Whilst their fixture list, which includes trips to Brentford and Manchester United, may be tough, their fate is entirely in their own hands.

Simply put if Aston Villa keep winning, they will play European football next season, and they have shown they know how to win football matches.

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