EPL

Unai Emery urges Aston Villa to grasp European chance ahead of Tottenham clash

By Sports Desk May 12, 2023

Unai Emery says Aston Villa are determined to grasp the possible “last opportunity” of European football next season.

Villa have slipped to eighth in the Premier League after back-to-back away defeats to Manchester United and Wolves, eight points behind fifth-placed Liverpool with three games remaining.

But overtaking sixth-placed Tottenham remains very much a target, and that would happen as early as Saturday if Villa could beat them at home by three goals.

Boss Emery said: “We’re three points behind Tottenham, everybody wants to enjoy this moment and play this match with the supporters.

“The last two matches against Manchester and Wolves we lost, but it’s not changed our good moments we are taking at home with our supporters.

“We deserve this opportunity because the last five matches we won at home and those 15 points have helped us be here.

“We have to be positive, to be happy and very focused because it could be the last opportunity.

“Or maybe it could be a very good opportunity to keep playing key matches, where me as a coach and the players can improve and build and take challenges in the new direction.

“We are playing for one place in Europe and playing against teams like Tottenham, Liverpool and Brighton.

“They are different teams but they’re amongst the biggest teams in the Premier League this year.”

Emery took charge at the start of November with Villa in free fall.

They had won only two of their first 11 league games under Steven Gerrard before his sacking.

Emery brought in defender Alex Moreno and striker Jhon Duran during the January transfer window, but the Spaniard has largely been working with players who served under Gerrard and he is likely to strengthen the squad this summer.

“The club is working to try to build and create a great way for the progression and the next years,” said Emery.

“Of course, we are trying to use my experiences as well to build with the players we have now and the work we’re doing here.

“The club will work thinking about the next year, but we have to be focused 100 per cent on the next match because the football is now.”

Villa have rattled off five home wins – against Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Nottingham Forest, Newcastle and Fulham – since losing to Arsenal on February 18.

Emery said: “We were very successful away and were competitive. We started to have some doubts at home before the last five matches we won.

“And now it’s exactly different. At home we’re feeling very strong and competitive and we’re winning difficult matches and playing very well.

“Away in the last three matches we haven’t been playing like we have been doing. That is one issue I’m working on and analysing with the players.

“Overall we are making very good progress individually and collectively as a team.”

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