Aston Villa 4-1 West Ham: Douglas Luiz at the double as Villa move within two points of Premier League summit

Victorious in their last 10 Premier League matches against the familiar backdrop of Villa Park – the club’s longest winning sequence across the top-flight of English football since October 1983 – Unai Emery made only a solitary alteration from the 1-1 draw with local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, as Nicolò Zaniolo replaced Diego Carlos.

Unbeaten in their last 10 head-to-head encounters in the Premier League, West Ham manager David Moyes unsurprisingly relied on the same personnel that drew 2-2 with high-flying Newcastle United prior to the two-week international break.

AVL: Martínez; Konsa, Kamara, Torres, Digne; Cash, Zaniolo, Luiz, McGinn; Diaby, Watkins

WHU: Areola; Coufal, Zouma, Aguerd, Palmieri; Ward-Prowse, Álvarez; Bowen, Souček, Paquetá; Antonio

Knowing a victory would secure their highest-ever points tally – 19 – at this stage of a Premier League season since the 1998/99 campaign, Villa had the first significant sight of the game’s opening goal, as only the acrobatics of West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola prevented Douglas Luiz’s long-range curling effort from hitting the back of the net.

However, Emery’s side should have been ahead shortly after the quarter-hour mark, but, despite brimming with confidence after netting England’s winner against Australia at Wembley last week, the in-form Ollie Watkins could only misfire his effort from inside the area disappointingly past the post.

Despite that miss, the hosts’ attacking dominance would eventually pay dividends in the 30th minute, as the goal-hungry Luiz unleashed a fearsome strike from just outside of the area that flew past an unsighted Areola – to earn the Brazilian international the record-breaking accolade of becoming the first Villa player to ever score in six successive PL matches at Villa Park.

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Determined to register their first victory against West Ham since May 2015, Villa took a momentous step towards breaking that unwanted sequence as Lucas Paquetá’s untimely pass back into the penalty area resulted in the marauding forward Ezri Konsa drawing a clumsily foul from Edson Álvarez. Already on the scoresheet after breaking the deadlock in the first half, Luiz again confidently hit the back of the net with a clinical finish to extend Villa’s lead to two.

Nonetheless, it did not take West Ham long to get back in with a chance of salvaging at least a share of the spoils at Villa Park. Already with a goal in all four of his Premier League away matches this season, Jarrod Bowen continued his rich vein of form away from the London Stadium as the England international halved the deficit with an ambitious effort that fortuitously deflected off a Villa defender – leaving Emiliano Martínez with absolutely no chance of making a save.

However, despite a sustained period of pressure in pursuit of an equalising goal, it would be the in-form Ollie Watkins who would take the game away from West Ham no less in front of the Holte End as the striker let loose a spine-chilling strike that flew ruthlessly into the roof of the net. There would still be time for Villa to put the icing on top of the footballing cake, as second-half substitute Leon Bailey left Nayef Aguerd wondering what was going on with an array of exquisite step-overs before deciding to unleash an unstoppable effort beyond a now fed-up Areola.

Aston Villa’s 11th successive victory in the league at Villa Park leaves the Villains only two points adrift of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table – ahead of their UEFA Conference League clash against AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands on Thursday. Meanwhile, West Ham will also be in European action on the same evening as they come up against the tricky challenge of trying to overcome Olympiacos on Greek soil.