Aston Villa are the favourites for Champions League football next year despite a disappointing turn in their form, says David James.

With Tottenham having lost heavily at Fulham on Saturday, Villa had the chance to move five points clear of Ange Postecoglou's team and consolidate their place in the top four when they faced West Ham on Sunday.

However, they ultimately had to settle for a point at London Stadium, thanks to Nicolo Zaniolo's equaliser, though West Ham had a late winner disallowed by VAR.

It left Villa, who have been unable to maintain the level of performances they showed at the end of 2023, still in control of their destiny, sitting three points above Tottenham, in fifth, albeit Spurs have a game in hand.

With five teams potentially set for a Champions League place this season, former Villa goalkeeper James fancies his old club’s chances of finishing ahead of Spurs and sixth-placed Manchester United.

James told Stats Perform: "I think Villa are the favourites, it's easy to say.

"Unai Emery has played for teams that are used to not winning all the time even if he's had success in cups and he's got a group of players who are confident, despite the results today, to get wins.

"I can't really see the top four changing. It'd be nice if there is a challenge, but Villa are my old team, so I actually want them to finish third."

Emery's side have been the surprise package this term, and despite some onlookers assuming they would fall away due to inexperience and their Europa Conference League duties still ongoing, they have remained firmly in top-four contention.

However, Villa have a difficult run-in, with Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool still to play, though Tottenham also have to face those four opponents as well.

Despite backing his old side, James conceded Villa have their flaws, and after being unbeaten at Villa Park until their loss to Newcastle United in January, they have now gone on to lose there on two more occasions, against United and Spurs.

James said: "We saw Tottenham batter Villa strangely after that long record that Villa broke at home, it felt like it was only going to be the away form that would let them down.

"It's reversed now that it's the home form that's letting them down and not the away form. They're still ahead of Tottenham points-wise."

Emery has rejuvenated Villa since he replaced Steven Gerrard at the helm, and James thinks the former Arsenal boss belongs in elite company.

James said: "I've heard some wonderful stories about him as well about his videos and stuff like that but if you can get the players to buy into what you're doing and by getting them the results they will try everything that you ask them to try then, you're on for a winner.

"I think Unai's got that at the moment. The problem is, and I think this is indicative of the Premier League at the moment and why Arsenal might be refreshing their challenging City and Liverpool.

"These two clubs here today have been ruling the Premier League for five, six years now. Emery's success would always be qualifying for the Champions League at the moment as opposed to challenging for the Premier League.

"So, yes, it's building blocks, but they're all going in the right direction. I just think that you've got a very capable manager with a capable group of players and they are signed to see the dividends of that."