Football

Aston Villa’s Resurgence Under Emery: From Relegation Battle to European Dream

The Lions are in their third cycle in as many years. Dean Smith ensured Premier League safety and Steven Gerrard did the same. The Liverpool legend was relieved of his duties once it became apparent he cannot lead them to the next level.

Aston Villa were struggling against relegation when Gerrard was replaced with Unai Emery. The Spaniard’s previous tenure in the Premier League had been underwhelming but his return has nothing been a real-life fairytale come true.

Since his appointment in November, the midlands club have rejuvenated. Heading into the final three matches of the campaign, they are eighth on the points table and one point away from the final European places on offer.

Tottenham Stand in Villa’s Way

In their final games, the Lions take on the challenge of Tottenham, Liverpool and Brighton. All three teams occupy the non-Champions League qualifying slots, one that Aston Villa would like to get into.

They suffered a 1-0 defeat to Wolves but their European hopes are alive. Emery believes it is their next duel against Tottenham that will seal their fate. The former Arsenal manager has told his players it is a cup final for them and they need to deliver if they are to realize their objectives.

“The result is disappointing but, overall, we have to be excited, and the position we are in, we could not have dreamed of three months ago,” said Emery on Saturday after the loss to Wolves. “We have to play three matches but the next match against Tottenham is our final.”

Unai Emery

“They [Wolves] had chances in the second half and we had one very good chance but the key was to score and to try to take the game but we are still keeping chances. We are three points behind Tottenham but we play them at home next week and, in front of our supporters, we will try again and keep the European chance still open.

“We were playing at a high level and winning a lot of points but the last three matches away we played a bit worse. Today, we deserved more. That is the team I want to see in the first half.

“The result is disappointing but, overall, we have to be excited and the position we are in, we could not have dreamed of three months ago. We have to play three matches but the next match against Tottenham is our final.”

Villa Surprise All

In a season of upheaval at Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham, Aston Villa are one of the few positive stories to come out of the Premier League. They have a solid foundation to build on and in Emery, they have a manager with the experience of delivering at the highest level.

The Spaniard knows the difficulty of the task and does not shy away from highlighting the work done behind the scenes. There are reports that he will link up with Barcelona’s director of football, Mateu Alemany, at Villa Park. The club have been coy at acknowledging Alemany’s arrival but Emery dropped hints and explanations of the Director of Football’s next career decision.

“Mateu Alemany is a person with experiences, he has worked at a high level and, if he’s coming here, because it is a possibility, it will be a very good opportunity to create a structure with him,” Emery shared.


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