Soccer

A player I really appreciate – Unai Emery hails Aston Villa captain John McGinn

John McGinn celebrates scoring in Aston Villa’s win over Fulham (Nick Potts/PA)
John McGinn celebrates scoring in Aston Villa’s win over Fulham (Nick Potts/PA) John McGinn celebrates scoring in Aston Villa’s win over Fulham (Nick Potts/PA)

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery has heaped praise on skipper John McGinn, describing the midfielder as a “very good example” for other players.

Sunday’s 3-1 home win over Fulham saw McGinn put Villa 2-0 up just before the interval with a fine strike from 20 yards, then help create the hosts’ third, scored by Ollie Watkins in the 64th minute.

The Scotland international has netted three times and provided two assists for fifth-placed Villa in the Premier League so far this term and has also scored twice in the Europa Conference League.

Emery said of McGinn, who has been with the club since 2018: “He is himself very demanding.

“He is competitive, he always is ready to play, physically as well. I think when he is not training or playing he is resting – his energy always is full.

“He is a very good example, of how he is consistent and trying to help and to be an example, a very good example for players.

“I really, really appreciate a lot as a person how he is, but as a professional, he is fantastic.

“His connection here, his commitment here for a long time, with the supporters, with Aston Villa, with the project that is here, and he came here when they were in the Championship…I think he’s one of the players I really appreciate and really need to be an example for others.”

The result at Villa Park meant Emery’s side – a point outside the top four and only three off the top – made it six wins out of six at home in the league this season and equal the post-war club record for successive top-flight home victories, matching the 13 in a row achieved in 1983.

Prior to McGinn and Watkins’ efforts, the hosts had taken the lead in the 27th minute via an Antonee Robinson own goal.

Fulham reduced the deficit with 20 minutes of normal time to go when Raul Jimenez, who had seen a shot tipped against a post by Emiliano Martinez early in the second half, opened his account for the club.

It was a first league goal for the Mexico international, signed from Wolves in the summer, since March 2022.

Fulham boss Marco Silva, whose side are 16th in the table after a third defeat in four league games, said the goal would be a weight off Jimenez’s shoulders.

He said: “For sure it’s going to be not so heavy for the next time that he’s going to be on the pitch.

“It’s a tough one, it’s a long time without scoring in the Premier League. Unfortunately for us, it didn’t give the chance for us to add points with his goal.

“But I’m sure if he keeps working like he’s doing, and trying to do his best, and we keep delivering for him as well, in the future he’s going to score (goals) that can count towards points for us.”

Jimenez, whose former club are Fulham’s first opponents after the international break, told the Cottagers’ official website: “Of course it’s always nice to score my first goal in the Premier League in a long time, and first goal for Fulham.

“I’m really happy for that, but obviously the result is not what we wanted and I want to keep doing this, keep scoring, and help the team to get better.

“This needs to be the goal that opens the bottle. I need to keep going and it’s going to be a special game for me, that next game (against Wolves), and I want to do my best.”