2023/24 season review: January and February


Ollie Watkins

Aston Villa enjoyed a winning start to 2024 as they looked to continue their impressive form from the first half of the 2023/24 season.

An 87th-minute goal from Matty Cash secured a 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough in the third round of the FA Cup at Riverside Stadium.

The triumph ensured Villa progressed to the fourth round of the world’s oldest domestic cup competition for the first time since 2016.

Matty Cash

Successive goalless draws followed, firstly against Everton at Goodison Park as Unai Emery’s side returned to Premier League action.

Following the mid-season break, the Villans then played out a 0-0 draw with Chelsea in the FA Cup fourth round at Stamford Bridge, ensuring the two sides would do it all again in a replay at Villa Park in February.

Villa’s 17-match unbeaten home run in the Premier League came to an end in late January courtesy of a 3-1 defeat against Newcastle United.

Fabian Schar’s quickfire brace just after the half-hour mark did the damage before the break, with Álex Moreno’s unfortunate own goal early in the second half adding a third for the visitors.

Ollie Watkins’ 50th Premier League goal for the club gave Villa hope of a fightback, but Emery’s side suffered their first league defeat at Villa Park for almost a year and only their second reverse in 16 matches in all competitions.

Sheffield United v Aston Villa

But Emery’s charges bounced back in emphatic style at the start of February as they dismantled Sheffield United 5-0 at Bramall Lane to get back to winning ways.

Four goals in 18 first-half minutes blew the Blades away, kickstarted by John McGinn’s opener.

Watkins’ drilled shot and Leon Bailey’s left-footed curler made it 3-0 to the visitors after 20 minutes, with Youri Tielemans cannoning number four in off the crossbar.

Moreno’s emphatic volley then bagged a fifth two minutes into the second half as Villa secured a first league win of 2024.

Yet back-to-back home disappointment followed as Villa bowed out of the FA Cup following a 3-1 defeat to Chelsea in their fourth-round replay at Villa Park.

The Villans, who were bidding to reach the fifth round for the first time since 2014/15, suffered only a third defeat in 18 matches in all competitions.

And there was further frustration four days later as we lost out to a late goal from Manchester United to go down 2-1 at Villa Park.

After Rasmus Højlund fired the visitors in front on 17 minutes, the home side were the dominant force and called Andre Onana into several fine saves.

The pressure finally told after 67 minutes when Douglas Luiz turned home Bailey’s cross, with the hosts immediately going in search of a winner.

However, it was the visitors who found the net during a rare foray forward after 86 minutes when substitute Scott McTominay headed home from Diogo Dalot’s cross.


Yet Villa bounced straight back at Craven Cottage as Watkins made it 18 goals in all competitions with a brace to secure a 2-1 win at Fulham.

The striker found the net with fine finishes in either half to ensure 2023/24 was his most prolific season to date in a Villa shirt.

In what was manager Emery’s 50th Premier League match in charge of the club, it was only a second victory at Craven Cottage in 10 attempts stretching back to 2010, with Villa having lost six of their previous seven visits.


And we rounded off February by getting back to winning ways at Villa Park courtesy of a strong 4-2 triumph over Nottingham Forest.

The hosts set about their opponents from the first whistle and established a three-goal lead via Watkins and Luiz’s brace.

Moussa Niakhaté and Morgan Gibbs-White reduced the arrears either side of half-time, but Villa quashed the comeback when Bailey scored his 11th goal of the season, earning his team consecutive Premier League wins.

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