The rain teemed down for most people in B6 but all Aston Villa fans can see right now are clear blue skies.
Unai Emery’s free-scoring team equalled the club’s postwar record of winning at home for the 13th league game in a row, matching the run set by the European Cup-winning team across two seasons in 1983. Even as Antonee Robinson inadvertently played a role in all four goals to leave Fulham two places above the relegation zone, Villa moved to within two points of second place in the Premier League.
Robinson’s own goal plus efforts from John McGinn and Ollie Watkins took Villa to 29 goals scored – second only to Manchester City – and means they have won 22 games in this calendar year, equalling another club record, set in 1998. Next up at Villa Park? Only the Premier League champions, on a Wednesday night next month.
Win that, and Villa will have equalled their all-time run of home victories from 1937. Not that Emery is getting too excited, not least as Villa have some other important games before then.
“I don’t want to think a lot about what we did; but I don’t want to think a lot about what is coming,” the Villa manager said. “Really I want to enjoy each moment. I want to share with the players next week the analysis that we are doing. And then try to take full energy again and prepare for the match against Tottenham. Then we are playing here at home again against Legia Warsaw and City and Arsenal.
“They are going to be amazing matches and very big challenges for everybody; so we are going to be very excited.”
Fulham have been as meek on the road as Villa have been vibrant at home. Notwithstanding winning at Ipswich in the Carabao Cup, Marco Silva’s side have not won away in the league since the opening day of the season at Everton.
Liverpool v Brentford, Aston Villa v Fulham and more: Premier League clockwatch – liveRead more
So Villa could hardly have asked for more obliging opponents. Two goals ahead by the interval, there was an inevitability about proceedings as the Villa Park crowd took to its feet to applaud the team off at the break.
“It was a frustrating afternoon for us,” Silva, the Fulham manager, said. “The first half we were poor on the ball. We didn’t exist on the ball in the first half. HT, we gave them belief, asked them to be more expressive on the ball. Felt we did that. The players fought until the end, much better in second half, but a game is 95 minutes at least.”
VAR encouraged the referee, Simon Hooper, to rule out the penalty he had awarded for Timothy Castagne’s handball in the seventh minute but Villa were undeterred. Youri Tielemans, on his first Premier League start for Villa, made the opening goal, dispatched a superb left-footed cross that eluded Moussa Diaby and Bernd Leno but deflected in off Robinson.
Matty Cash made a crucial last-ditch tackle to prevent Willian breaking clear on goal on a rare Fulham foray just before the second goal. It was a pivotal tackle.
The ball is deflected off Antonee Robinson into his own goal to open the scoring for Aston Villa. Photograph: Darren Staples/AFP/Getty Images
Robinson headed clear Lucas Digne’s lofted cross but only as far as McGinn who had time to take a touch away from João Palhinha before driving home his third goal in the past five games from the edge of the area with his favoured left foot.
skip past newsletter promotion
Sign up to Football Daily
Free daily newsletter
Kick off your evenings with the Guardian’s take on the world of football
after newsletter promotion
At least Fulham came out with their tails up after the break and Raúl Jiménez shot against a post, Willian sidefooting the rebound over as Villa sat back.
The improvement from Fulham also played its part in Villa scoring the goal that killed the game, however. When Watkins headed clear Willian’s corner, there appeared no immediate threat as the ball fell to Robinson. The hapless full-back slipped, however, inviting Leon Bailey – just on as a substitute – to run half the length of the pitch and play the ball into the feet of McGinn.
The Villa captain uses his bulky frame so well and stuck his backside out to act as a pivot, taking out two defenders to return the ball outside for Bailey to cross for Watkins to sidefoot in his 11th goal of the season.
How do I sign up for sport breaking news alerts?
- Download the Guardian app from the iOS App Store on iPhone or the Google Play store on Android by searching for ‘The Guardian’.
- If you already have the Guardian app, make sure you’re on the most recent version.
- In the Guardian app, tap the Menu button at the bottom right, then go to Settings (the gear icon), then Notifications.
- Turn on sport notifications.
Was this helpful?Thank you for your feedback.
There was some consolation for Fulham as Jiménez rolled in his first Premier League goal in 34 games and 20 months, after Wilson played a diagonal pass over the Villa midfield for Robinson to square for the former Wolves striker.
Carlos Vinícius had a goal disallowed for offside while Watkins covered his head with his shirt after nodding wide from four yards out after Palhinha had deflected McGinn’s cross against his own crossbar. But Villa were already home if not dry.