Aston Villa boss Unai Emery spoke to the media on Friday ahead of our encounter with Man City this weekend, and as ever, it offered intriguing and interesting discussions.
Unsurprisingly, Emery was bitterly disappointed and frustrated after our defeat to Leicester City last weekend, and while his tenure thus far has been hugely positive given the change we’ve seen him implement, there have been stumbling blocks along the way which is to be expected in the early stages.
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He’ll hope to get us back on track this weekend as despite the obvious difficulty in a trip to the Etihad, our away form has been excellent since he took charge and there should be real belief in the squad that we can beat any side on our day if we play to our best ability.
Emery is engaging, honest and clear when he speaks about Villa and what he’s trying to build at the club, and that was the case again this week during his discussion with the media, as per Villa TV.
Belief in squad, patience to build our style and learn from mistakes
The Villa boss once again reiterated that he has full belief in the current squad to continue to improve and make progress, but understandably added a caveat that patience and time is needed for us to build our style the way we want it.
Naturally, there will be mistakes along the way, but the Spanish tactician was keen to stress that we must learn from those and improve, while also being very demanding of ourselves to continue to take steps forward.
While we’ve moved further up the table, the hope is that we can break into the top 10 in the Premier League this season at least, and although he has been disappointed with some performances since he arrived, Emery sounded very positive about the overall progress we’ve made to this point.
More to come from Watkins
Ollie Watkins has scored three goals and provided two assists in seven league outings under Emery, as he has not only responded well to what’s being asked of him, but the Villa coaching staff are putting him in a position to be more decisive.
Aside from his goals and creativity, the 27-year-old has been a key presence for us leading the line, stretching defences with his movement and offering an option to hold up the ball and bring his teammates into the game.
However, as with every other individual in the squad, Emery insisted that there is more improvement to come from Watkins as while he’s pleased with what he’s seen thus far, he is adamant he can be even more impactful.
City off-field distractions could galvanise them
Emery made an interesting point when questioned about Man City’s issues off the pitch this week, as there is a sense that it could be an unwanted distraction for them which could influence their performance.
However, the Villa boss has looked at it from an entirely different angle and believes that it could actually galvanise them and bring them closer together, with Pep Guardiola certainly sounding bullish in his own press conference on Friday.
This game is so, so tough regardless of those factors anyway, but Villa will have to be defensively strong, error-free while continuing to try and impose our style on the game as it goes on to extend our good form on the road.
Playing out from the back going nowhere
There has been a lot of talk about our desire to play out from the back, as it has led to mistakes that have directly led to goals against the likes of Brighton and Leicester.
However, it’s evidently a key principle of Emery’s preferred style of play, and he isn’t willing to move away from that as he challenged the players to learn from those mistakes and impose our ideas better.
When it works, it’s a vital part of our approach and how we break teams down. Emery is right to stick to his principles and it’s hoped that the players can find consistency with it and execute it how he wants it to look.
Away form going better than expected, need to improve at home
Emery also reiterated that he wants to see improvement in our home form as he was asked about our impressive start on the road since he arrived.
While the away performances have undoubtedly been a major positive as we’ve picked up wins and looked convincing doing it for the most part, we haven’t been as efficient at Villa Park.
Emery added that he is always striving to find the right tactical solutions, as ultimately it’s a very different approach from us when we counter-attack away but look to have more possession and control at home.
For now, it’s hoped we get another big three points in Manchester this weekend, and after that, we’ll hopefully show we’ve learned lessons from our mistakes in front of the Villa faithful to improve our home form too.