EPL

Unai Emery keeps his new year’s resolution small after latest Aston Villa win

By Sports Desk December 30, 2023

Unai Emery stressed his aim heading into the new year is to get better after Aston Villa concluded their “really fantastic” 2023 with a 3-2 home victory over Burnley.

Douglas Luiz notched the winner against the 10-man Clarets with an 89th-minute penalty as Villa moved level on points with Premier League leaders Liverpool, ahead of the Reds hosting Newcastle on New Year’s Day.

It was the midland outfit’s 26th top-flight win of 2023 and a club-record 32nd victory in all competitions across the calendar year.

And boss Emery, when asked if he thought 2024 could be even better, said: “Always the idea is to improve and get better.

“It was really fantastic, the year we did – but I’m very excited for the next match.

“We have 42 points and we can feel comfortable and happy, but…my expectation for the next year is try to progress. I am going to manage how we can progress.”

He added: “When I arrived here (in late 2022) the message always was get better, try to play Europe, try to be a contender to be in the top 10, in the top seven, now we are top four.

“We are not contented to be in the top seven, top four in the Premier League, but we are in at the moment and if on (match)day 30, 32 we are in, maybe we can think it is our opportunity to get it.”

Villa led at the break thanks to a 42nd-minute Moussa Diaby finish after Leon Bailey’s opener for the hosts had been cancelled out by Zeki Amdouni.

Burnley suffered a further setback with Sander Berge being sent off early in the second half, but it looked as if it could prove a frustrating afternoon for Villa after Lyle Foster drew things level again in the 71st minute.

Luiz then netted from the spot late on following a foul by former Villa man Aaron Ramsey on fellow substitute John Duran, and Emery declared that the “satisfaction is high” with his team having “reacted very well in the first half and the second”.

Related items

  • Rangnick expects 'exceptional' Lewandowski to start for Poland Rangnick expects 'exceptional' Lewandowski to start for Poland

    Ralf Rangnick insisted Austria will not change their tactics for Robert Lewandowski having missed Poland's opening Euro 2024 fixture against the Netherlands. 

    The Barcelona striker, who is his nation's all-time top scorer with 82 goals, did not feature in their 2-1 defeat in Hamburg having picked up a thigh injury in a pre-tournament friendly against Turkiye. 

    Despite his absence, both Rangnick and captain Marcel Sabitzer are preparing for the game with the assumption he will be on the pitch for Michal Probierz's side on Friday.

    "It doesn't change our way of playing a lot, basically they will play the way they have been played. Lewandowski is the (main) player in Poland, everyone tries to pass to him, especially if they counter at speed," Rangnick told reporters.

    "In Munich, I had the joy of playing together with him for one year, therefore I know his qualities," Sabitzer added on facing his former team-mate.

    "I know he's an exceptional player but for us as a team, when it comes to tactics, nothing will change."

    Austria, meanwhile, started their Group D campaign with a narrow defeat to tournament favourites France, and know a victory is a must to keep their hopes of advancing to the knockout stages alive. 

    "The team that wins tomorrow holds the good cards and has a good chance of going through to the next phase, so therefore it's a game you have to win, that's absolutely clear to us," Rangnick said.

    Sabitzer said his side was ready for the pressure that comes with a must-win game, saying: "We already said to each other that we want to win the match tomorrow, and Poland the same to each other internally.

    "I think if we change those things (from the France game) if we follow our principles and are intense, and if we bring all that on the pitch, then we have a good chance of winning tomorrow."

  • Saka insists there is more to come from England ahead of Denmark clash Saka insists there is more to come from England ahead of Denmark clash

    Bukayo Saka has said there is another level to come from England ahead of their Group C fixture against Denmark in Frankfurt. 

    The Three Lions started their Euro 2024 campaign with a 1-0 win over Serbia last Sunday, courtesy of Jude Bellingham's fourth international goal. 

    But England supporters were left wanting more from their side at full-time, with Serbia controlling the game after the break and possibly unfortunate to not steal a point. 

    Saka, who is featuring in his third major tournament for his country, played a huge role in Bellingham's opener, crossing the ball onto the head of the Real Madrid star.

    Alongside Phil Foden, Harry Kane and Bellingham, the Arsenal attacker is part of an exciting plethora of attacking options for Gareth Southgate at the tournament, but he believes there is room for improvement ahead of their game with Denmark. 

    "Yeah, a bit you could say that," Saka said if England's attacking display against Serbia was fluid. "You could say that for the goal, but I think there is a new level to come from us."

    The 22-year-old was part of the England side who reached the final at Euro 2020 and started the game against Denmark in the semi-finals, which the Three Lions won 2-1 after extra-time at Wembley. 

    "Denmark are a good team and provide a good challenge," Saka said. "We played them at the last Euros, and it went to extra-time, but we won in the end. 

    "That was a very special night, a very special night."

    England arrived in Germany as one of the favourites to win the competition after their displays at their last three major tournaments. 

    Saka has become a mainstay under Southgate's tenure at the helm, and he believes the current squad looking to end England's 58-year wait for an international trophy is the best it has been. 

    "I would like to say so. The experience also makes us better. A lot of us were there at that tournament and the World Cup as well. 

    "We learned things from playing together which makes us better, so I would say so."

  • Reggae Girl Jody Brown inks first professional contract with Portuguese club Benfica Reggae Girl Jody Brown inks first professional contract with Portuguese club Benfica

    Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz winger Jody Brown inked her first professional contract, having agreed to join Benfica of Portugal on a three year deal.

    The former Florida State University standout, officially announced her move on her social media on Thursday, as she expressed delight about her transition to the professional realm.

    "Becoming a professional players has been my dream since i started playing soccer as a kid in Jamaica, and I can't wait to win many titles with this club," Brown posted on her Instagram account.

    "I am proud and honoured to sign my first professional contract for such a big institution as Benfica. I would like to thank my family, MVA [Montverde Academy], FSU, Hue Menzies and everyone who helped me get to this point," she added.

    Brown, 22, has represented Jamaica at every level, including at two FIFA Women's World Cup tournaments and has scored 12 goals for Jamaica at the senior level.

    She recently assisted Florida State University to the NCAA Division 1 Women's Championship and their retention of the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship title last season. Benfica are the current champions of Portugal and have also secured Champions League football for next season.

    More to come.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.